We are pleased and honored to announce our 2014 Hydrocephalus Association Teens Take Charge Scholarship Recipients.
The Hydrocephalus Association’s (HA) program, Teens Take Charge (TTC), trains teenagers and young adults who are affected by hydrocephalus to advocate for themselves specifically with health professionals and with their legislators. TTC provides support, resources, and training, as well as awareness and fundraising opportunities for teens and young adults to effectively communicate their stories. It’s a great way for youth to connect with others who share similar experiences.
Through a generous grant from the Medtronic Foundation and the Clara Rose Foundation, the Hydrocephalus Association is able to award five scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each to these extraordinary young adults.
We are grateful for the generous support of the Medtronic Foundation, the Clara Rose Foundation, and all of the individuals who have held events and contributed to TTC. They have made it possible for HA to create a real “teen and young adult community” that continues to grow and develop around the primary goals of the program.
We applaud these young adults for their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and determination. They are an inspiration to everyone at the Hydrocephalus Association and to our entire community!
Congratulations 2014 TTC Scholarship Recipients!
“While I never set out to be the poster child for a brain tumor survivor/teen with hydrocephalus, I realize that I have an obligation to give back to the community however I can. If parents can look at me and think, “Maybe my child can accomplish that one day,” then I am happy to represent hope for them.”
Benjamin is a freshman at Haverford College in Pennsylvania studying biochemistry and mathematics. An active young adult and leader, Ben is an avid swimmer, runner, and performer, playing piano and singing for fundraisers and other events. He was a member of his high school’s student government and captain of the swim team. He also enjoys mathematical challenges; often taking daily life events, such as walking the dog, he formulates calculations and equations and later shares them with his teachers. Despite challenges with short term memory, Ben has an uncanny knack for remembering the phone numbers of everyone he knows.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus at age 2, Benjamin has learned to live with its limitations; not allowing his condition to define him, but instead working hard, being positive and enjoying the opportunities it has helped him discover. One such discovery is his fascination with brain plasticity. He plans to study this further, hoping to be part of a research team unlocking more mysteries of the brain, in order to help individuals with brain injuries and hydrocephalus.
Anna Louise Sullivan
“I would like to be there for parents and kids and let them know that they are not the only families going through this.”
Anna is currently enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in nursing. Her motivation for nursing comes from caring for her parents who were recovering from surgery at the same time. “I enjoyed having the responsibility of taking care of people and knowing that they relied on me to take care of them in a time of need.”
Anna was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at birth and had a shunt placed when she was 6 weeks old. She has overcome numerous challenges in her life. Multiple vision problems and family-related hardship during childhood may have defeated someone else, but not Anna. She worked hard, found support where she could and remained positive.
She hopes to ‘pay-it-forward’ in the future by being there for a parent or child who is living with hydrocephalus, listening to their concerns and sharing her experience, fundraising through the HA WALK events, and providing a day-long babysitting service to parents of a child with hydrocephalus so they can, “…enjoy themselves while knowing that their child is being taken care of by someone who has something in common.”
“I will not let hydrocephalus define me. However, in spite of it, I have been an academic success and because of it, I have become a better human being.”
John-Tyler is a freshman at Caldwell University where he is majoring in psychology and planning for a five-year Master’s degree program in applied behavioral analysis. At college, he hopes to continue to spread awareness about hydrocephalus and advocate for students with disabilities. He also plans to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst so that he can counsel and support individuals and families who struggle with disabilities.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus shortly after birth, John-Tyler was often told by teachers and others that he may not succeed. However, despite five surgeries, vision difficulties, and learning disabilities, he was an honors student, inducted into the National Honor Society, and a track team athlete at his high school. He also enjoys public speaking and was asked to participate in a program called Dare to Dream which engages students with disabilities who exemplify self-advocacy and leadership. John-Tyler has spent numerous hours in community service and advocacy for people with disabilities; Buddy Ball, Special Strides Horse Farm, and his church’s youth group are some of the organizations he has volunteered with recently. He would like to become a peer supporter of teens with hydrocephalus.
When asked about how hydrocephalus has impacted his life, John-Tyler responded, “The adversity I experienced has shaped my view of myself and the world. I learned to value the importance of good health and to be empathetic toward others and their life stories.”
“This event has helped me to realize how fortunate I am and has shaped my life in a positive way.”
Alexandra Cattie has been accepted to Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, NY. She plans on studying economics and mathematics; possibly pursuing a master’s degree in international finance. Her love for finance stems from her hobby of extreme couponing. This has helped her family and others save money, provided additional funds for donations, taught her financial skills, and increased her self-confidence when working with a variety of individuals.
At age 11, Alexandra had a brain aneurysm and stroke which resulted in left side paralysis and hydrocephalus. However, she has not let this event nor her hydrocephalus prevent her from pursuing her goals of playing varsity tennis, zip-lining across mountains in California, and going to college five hours away from home. After each of her six shunt revisions since age 11, she has tried to get back to her activities, not letting these complications get her down.
Alexandra hopes to be a positive role model for others with hydrocephalus. She shares, “When I go to a concert with friends or study for an honors calculus exam, I don’t worry about what could have happened or why this happened to me. I have chosen not to let my hydrocephalus hold me back. I was fortunate to have great doctors, family, and friends . . . and now it is up to me to aid others using the favorable results of my experience.”
“During my visits in and out of hospitals . . . I have experienced how just a few kind words from strangers can brighten someone’s day.”
Amanda recently started classes at McDaniel College where she is studying early childhood education and plans to add a minor in American Sign Language. As a counselor at a performing arts camp for children, she discovered her passion for working with children. She hopes to integrate this passion, along with her interest in reading and acting, into her future career.
Born prematurely, Amanda developed a brain bleed which led to her hydrocephalus one week after she was born. Her first shunt lasted 15 years with only a few complications. However, at 16, after many tests and severe headaches, she was diagnosed with non-compliant slit ventricle hydrocephalus which led to multiple shunt revisions, surgeries, and hospitalizations in a short period of time. Despite these challenges, she continues to thrive and greatly appreciates the supportive family, friends, and medical teams that have helped her through. Amanda encourages patients and families to advocate for their needs and fully participate in their care to try to avoid all that she experienced.
As a volunteer at National Capital Therapy Dogs, Amanda helped animals and owners prepare to visit hospitals, shelters, and nursing homes by familiarizing them with medical equipment and role-playing. She also had the opportunity to experience a therapy dog visit while in the hospital for surgery; which was a treat!