Valerie Fund scholarship donors, board members, staff and parents recognized 25 of the 36 named scholarship recipients at the Maplewood Country Club in Maplewood, NJ on January 3, 2019. In total, 93 former and current Valerie Fund patients were awarded scholarships for the 2018 - 2019 academic year totaling $430,000 in scholarship money to attend college and universities, from local community colleges and vocational programs, to Ivy Leagues, nursing, and medical school.
Students are selected by The Valerie Fund Board Scholarship Committee based on merit, need, or a combination of both. Valerie Fund Scholarship Committee member Tara Favors represented the selection committee stating she was “in awe of every student's story and perseverance."
Each of the 25 scholars had the opportunity to speak, many singling out the multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and psychosocial professionals who guided them through their treatment and recovery. These ambitious recipients are pursuing a wide range of majors, including history, mathematics, engineering, communications, business, and finance.
Picture above: The 25 named Valerie Fund scholars who spoke at the reception.
Dimitri is a junior double majoring in history and political science at Columbia University. He has an internship this spring with the Council on Foreign Relations. His dream is to join the United Nations and work for the International Court of Justice and the International Court of Arbitration. Dimitri admitted he wasn't always this motivated. "There was a time where I failed out of middle school and a month later, I was diagnosed with cancer. I felt like my entire world was collapsing and I didn't know what to do. Through that experience, I got really interested in being able to learn about the world around me. If it wasn't for The Valerie Fund, I wouldn't have been able to pursue any of the dreams I have today."
Melina was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a form of cancer, in 2010 and needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life. According to the American Cancer Society, "MDS are conditions that can occur when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal." Just two years later, she was also diagnosed with Central Nervous System (CNS) Vasculitis. Melina has had five strokes and continues to undergo treatment every day. Despite her health setbacks, she continues to push on. Now a sophomore at Villanova University, Melina plans to study communications with a double minor in public administration and business. "I hope to start my own non-profit one day and be able to give back and help other children who are just like me."
Steven was two weeks away from his high school graduation with a letter of intent to play football at Lehigh University when he was diagnosed with high-risk ALL Leukemia. He was later re-diagnosed with Hypodiploid ALL, a rare sub-type of Leukemia. In 2014, Steven received a bone marrow transplant from his brother and is now in remission. "I'm now a member of 'Be The Match' which seeks to find donors for patients who need the same transplant I had." Steven is a senior at the University of Michigan studying finance with a minor in writing. After graduation he has a job lined up at Houlihan Lokey in New York City as an investment banking analyst.
Nicole is a first-year graduate student at Teacher's College, Columbia University. She is studying psychology and spirituality mind-body studies. Nicole was diagnosed with Acute Promelocytic Leukemia at the age of 14. After her treatment she decided to focus on taking care of her mind and body. "During my sophomore year of college, I was two years out of treatment and I realized I wasn't taking my health as seriously as a cancer survivor. So I went on a health journey and started getting into health and wellness. I hope to help others pursue wellness in their lives and achieve their best health in the ways that work for them."