2016 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Abigail Shafer- Arizona State University
"I was never asked to a dance, my dreams of attending prom and homecoming were still there, but they never materialized. I was not invited to parties, or social gatherings, after all I was just the "sick girl." Rumors and social media swirled with inaccurate and sometimes hateful ideas of what was going on with me. I grew up very quickly and became so strong through these trials, I learned to rely on myself and my family and that was it."
Alyssa Metts- University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
"Until recently, I would try to hide my illness and do everything others do. Unfortunately, I have found that I cannot do as many activities and sleep as few hours as my friends because stress can cause a lupus flare."
Christina Jackson- University of Missouri- Columbia
"I was doing quire well considering that my doctors had just told me and my family that I had a disease that we had ever heard of. I was set to go to college that year...I was [fine] until my senior year, the same semester I was due to graduate [college]. Unfortunately, I was never able to see that day. My big plans to become a college graduate would be placed on hold for seven years."
Corinn Ann Stines- Elmhurst College (Illinois)
"Dear lupus… you told me I was unlovable. I was an outcast. I could no longer be an athlete, be happy. The only thing left of me was smiling pictures. I don’t look like the sick kid, do I? I stand behind photos of 'you’re gorgeous' or 'you don’t look sick'. You smirked as the doctors shook their heads and I shake mine to this day."
Courtney Holvey- Binghampton University (New York)
"I wanted to be more than just a girl with lupus and I think that was my biggest motivation. I decided to put all my energy into being a successful student."
Hanna Kent- California State University- San Marcos
“Today I am a strong Christian, continuous tennis player, leader of many, loving daughter and sister. I don't know who I'd be today without the diagnosis, but I do not want to be anyone else and that is something I am greatly proud of.”
Hasler Roberson- University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
"When I was fifteen I thought lupus was the Latin word for wolf (thank you, Harry Potter), but when I was diagnosed with the disease in 2014 I felt more like a vampire, since the sun is basically my mortal enemy."
Jamie Stevens- University of New Mexico
“Lupus is such a sad and lonely disease. My own body is working so hard to harm itself and makes me feel such a deep sense of failure and hopelessness. The pride that I can take in my educational success replaces that feeling of failure and makes me feel strong and capable. Lupus will not distinguish my spirit.”
Jamilah Ali- University of New Mexico
"I want my story to be an inspiration and one day start a scholarship fund and mentoring program to help someone who has been diagnosed with lupus to get through not only college but life as well."
Kashika Singh- Chapman University (California)
“As time went on, I realized that my trauma was not mine alone. I could share my story and assist others going through the same thing.”
Kayla Morgann Pigg- University of Kentucky
“There's something fascinating about dominoes. The way you can make a maze of them. How one thing always leads to another; no matter how hard you try to stop it, you just can't. Life and lupus are a lot like a maze of dominoes. Each domino is a different story and each maze an even bigger one.”
Mackenzie Hoover- Plymouth State University (New Hampshire)
"I understand now that I need to be my own advocate. I have made a promise to myself to never pull the sympathy card; instead I call it my strength card. Lupus will be with me for life. It is how I choose to live with it that will be my success or defeat."
Nicole Iadevaia- New York University
"Having lupus is like participating in a triathalon, you think you have it under control most days, you swim past all your responsibilities and are feeling great and then you get on your bike and cycle your way through life like everyone else. Then you get to the final leg of the race, and you realize you are shoeless, in quicksand."
Raul Gomez- University of San Francisco (California)
"As a person living with lupus, I understand that life can be unfair but over the years of having supportive family and friends I’ve been able to cope with my disability and turn every day into a positive day- by not allowing it to prevent me from doing what I love."
Samantha Byers- University of California Riverside
"The study of lupus and other autoimmune disorders is still an emerging field with many unknowns. I would love to be able to research solutions so that I may 'fix' myself and others. We are not broken- we are merely misaligned and are in search of answers to our malady."
2015 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Alexandra White- University of Arkansas, Fayettville (L.I.F.E. Awareness Award, Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
“Without any former knowledge of the disease, I was forced to immediately adjust my lifestyle to its consequences. I suffered physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Though the physical and emotional aspects have taken their toll, I fear the intellectual struggle has the potential to have the most pervasive impact.”
Alexis Stanciel- Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
“At one point in time I considered this a setback, I was wrong; it hasn’t set me back at all. This illness has been my biggest motivator, pushing me to prove that there's light at the end of the tunnel. I do not consider myself a victim, I am Alexis Stanciel, and I am better and more empowered than ever"
Anissa Lee Hang- Hawaii Pacific University (Sponsored, Mr. Kris N. Nakagawa via Sjogren's and Lupus Foundation of Hawaii)
“I’m majoring in pre-medicine because I hope to one day be able to help other people with lupus in ways that only another lupus patient can. Tomorrow, I want someone to hear my story and for me to be the reason they have the strength to never give up.”
Annelise Sprau- Ohio State University
"I believe that I am more understanding and grateful of all that life has given me and cognizant that anyone can have a disease or struggle, we just might not see it."
Christin Weston- Austin Peay State University, TN
"A simple trip to the waterpark could leave me in bed for a week so I consciously decide to make each day count"
Devin Cowan- University of Central Florida
"Through my struggles, I've found a strength in me that I never knew existed. I won't stop. I can't stop until I achieve all of my life goals. Neither lupus, nor any other ailment or roadblock, will stand in the way of this. If not for lupus, who knows where I'd be today?"
Haley Hahn- University of Illinois- Urbana Champagne (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
“Lupus is definitely complicated, confusing, and most certainly unique. We all have different effects from of the disease. Some have it worse than others , but we all deal with the mystery and surprises it always seems to bring.”
Haylee Hinton- University of Nevada, Las Vegas
“Making up for lost time has been the most stressful aspect of coping, but I give it my best every day. In five semesters, I brought a 1.5 cumulative GPA up to a 3.11. I have plans to push it further. I want at least a 3.5 before I graduate.”
J’Andrique Taylor- Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
"I isolated myself because I did not want to see others do what I could not. I did not see any useful purpose to my existence, but I soon realized that I am not the only person with Lupus. I could still be the person I wanted to be because I was the person I was before my diagnosis."
Julia Ann Walker- San Francisco State University, CA
"Being diagnosed with lupus nephritis taught me that with an unbreakable faith and the desire to fight I could overcome almost anything that is thrown my way."
Kelsey Dickinson- University of Denver, CO (Sponsored, Fisheye Consulting)
"I gave myself time and patience, but I would not give up...I found strength within myself and regained the self confidence that I had lost. I had the power to reach higher than my lupus."
Kyrsten Freyou- Northwestern State University, LA
“Like a phoenix, I embrace each day and rise from the fire and ash so that I may soar to new heights throughout my life with lupus”
Kyran Palmer- Brigham Young University, ID (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
“I have become keenly aware of my blessings and how my friends, family, and community have supported me. I have had to learn to be patient in attaining goals and even though it will be a challenge above and beyond normal, I am committed to my goal of attending BYU where I will study architectural design.”
Louisa Goss- Williams College, MA
“The stereotypical expectation of being physically weaker than before my illness made me determined to exceed it. By the end of my freshman year my lupus had gone into remission, I was off dialysis, I was running again and although I was still on medications, I have proved to myself that I was still a hard-working student.”
Megan Roberts- Endicott College, MA (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
“I believe that my story can help those who feel that their disability holds them back, as I had once thought. I want others to know that even with lupus, you can still work hard and achieve as long as you believe in yourself and not let the opinions of others hold you back from your goals.”
Rebecca Mighell- University of Oklahoma (Sponsored, Jean Bassett)
“Even though fatigue continues to be a factor in my everyday life, throughout high school, I have striven to balance a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, performing in shows at professional and community theatres. I have always wanted to pursue musical theatre, and while I know that lupus will make this challenging, I am determined to work toward fulfilling this dream, and not let my disease stand in the way.”
Samuel Wood- University of New England, ME (L.I.F.E. Awareness Award, Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
“My experience with SLE changed my life and the lives of my friends and family forever. It taught me to face my own mortality, view life as a gift, and to never be afraid to pursue my passions. “
Tam Ann Vu- University of St. Thomas, TX (Sponsored, Dr. I)
“Having lupus has taught me how to keep courage and self-motivation, balance moderation with perseverance, accept rejection, and have humility in success. Though it may be considered a disability, it has shown me that I can actually do more than the average ‘healthy’ person can.
Taylor Pierce- University of California, Davis
“Although my life is anything but conventional, I make it work because it is the only one I have. I am strong everyday because i know what it feels like to feel weak. I am fearless because I know what it is like to live in fear, but most of all, I stay positive because I know what its like to have negative thoughts take over my life”
Tiffany White- University of Memphis, TN
“I could either let lupus control my life or take the hand God has dealt me and become a powerful and strong woman that lets nothing bring her down. I chose to be in the driver's seat of my life and let lupus be the passenger.”
Ewodaghe Harrell- Brown University, RI (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
"My battle with lupus has taught me three distinct lessons: I am capable of overcoming adversity; a disability does not erase one's ability to pursue their aspirations; and helping others through advocacy and awareness truly makes a difference."
Abigail Saucedo- University of Texas, Arlington
“I realized how weak and vulnerable I really was, both physically and mentally. Being diagnosed with lupus made me fall into an abyss without any visible way out. Time heals all wounds, and as time passed I started seeing stairs leading out of the abyss. Something inside me insisted on change for my family, for my friends, and for myself.”
2014 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Brina Olunkwa- Hofstra University, NY (Sponsored, In Memory of Catie Corcoran)
"Though I have lupus which affects my physical being, my dreams and passions remain the same. I am focused in continuing my education in order to pursue my goal of being a medical researcher."
Linda Zhang- University of California- Berkeley (Sponsored, Anonymous Non-Profit)
"Lupus has made me a stronger and better person than I believe I would have been otherwise. It taught me to embrace my imperfections, and to live passionately, honestly, and gratefully… As my struggle with Lupus continues, so does my strength to persevere in this life and all it has to offer."
William Aguilar-John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NY (Sponsored, KB Covers)
"Throughout all of this, I have chosen to take a path of positive thinking. I choose to ignore the things that might have held me back, and to strive forward toward my educational goals. I used my diagnosis as a reason to seek for answers, to learn and prove to myself that I may have the illness, but the illness does not have me."
Jena Trowbridge-Remington College School of Nursing, FL (Sponsored, Jean Bassett)
"I have faced many challenges, balancing work, school, and a chronic disease. I enjoy listening, working with others, and acting as a patient advocate and educator. This new chapter of my life will continue to grow and develop who I am as a student, professional and individual; I gladly welcome all of these upcoming changes with ample enthusiasm for what the future may hold."
Destini Thomas- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
"I also have become a very flexible person; this condition is a day to day experience. So, I have to be ready with a plan B,C, and even D, and take back the power in my life. I've learned to control the disease and not let it control me!"
Gianna Raponi- Rollins College, FL
"If I could leave an imprint on this Earth, I would wish that others could understand all of the sacrifices that led to me to the experiences to be the person that I am. I want them to see through my eyes that living with lupus can be difficult but not impossible. Lupus patients learn to live very day with so much inner strength, that others do not realize their daily challenges."
Jacqueline Saunders- Ferris State University College of Pharmacy, MI (Sponsored, Anonymous Individual)
"Lupus completely broke down my body, but it never broke down an eternal spark inside of me. An unexpected positivity came from having lupus, teaching me enriched life lessons. It made me appreciate even the smallest events in life, realizing I can choose my attitude each day and make it what I want it to be."
Jolene Milewski- Temple University Tyler School of Art, PA
"Being diagnosed with lupus didn’t register in my mind. I didn’t really understand how serious it was…Sometimes I worry that lupus will prevent me from the future I want to obtain, but in my fight I know I will be successful."
Katelynn Henderson- University of New Mexico
"The truth is, having lupus is not a walk in the park. I could tell you about how I'm a hero and how I fight through it, but it wasn't always like that."
Lauryn Bille – University of Nebraska- Lincoln
"Lupus gave me perspective. I was taught patience along with appreciation and respect. Before lupus, I almost glided through life not realizing how special each moment I spent with friends and family was. Although this disease may look like an obstacle, it helped me grow as a person more than anything else could have.”
Mattie Newman- Harvard University, MA
"Lupus made the start of high school nearly unbearable because people around me were ignorant as to how opening a door could be a challenge for me now…However, there was a point when lupus transitioned from a burden to a motivator. I decided to take lupus as a reason to work harder… My diagnosis does not make me any less capable.
Natasha Pacheco- University of Massachusetts Lowell
"But towards the end of those dark days the more I thought the more accepting I became. I now think of this as something to push me forward. My disease is now my motivator because it shows me that I can handle anything life throws at me."
Patricia Lawlis – University of Chicago
"I have decided to continue on with my life and not let my lupus end my educational and career dreams… I am not expecting to find balancing school and volunteering to be easy, but I know that with the correct attitude and preventative measures, I can manage my lupus without losing the things I care about."
Vanessa Fuentes – Baylor University School of Law, TX
"At some point, there was a moment of recognition in which I saw my struggles as an opportunity to humble myself by accepting my weaknesses and receiving help… Because of lupus, I am courageous, I am optimistic, and I am strong."
Ewodaghe Harrell – Brown University, Deferred Enrollment for 2014
2013 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Antoinette Grimes- Mesa Community College
"Lupus took many precious things away from me: my husband, my Army career as an officer, and almost my life… I thought Lupus had taken everything from me… I decided that I was not going to let Lupus rule my life, I was going to win. I was ready to take on the challenge of my “new normal.” Lupus will never steal my joy, but I will use my Lupus to help others.”
Imani Rugless – University of Cincinnati
"Lupus opened the door to determination, empathy, compassion, a love of science, and a drive to understand. Lupus has prepared me to become an amazing doctor. Hopefully, I can credit lupus with my future task to eliminate lupus forever."
Katie Alexander – Sam Houston State University
"I know that I have a long fight ahead of me as my body just keeps reminding me. I will continue my struggle and live my life the best I can. I will also continue to pray every day for a cure for Lupus."
Elizabeth Yuen – San Francisco State University
“Being diagnosed with lupus inspired my career goal… to become a pediatric rheumatologist…I believe that one of the best gifts I could share with my future patients is hope - hope that they are not alone, hope that the hard time will end, and hope that they will get through this dark period.”
Cynthia Spurgeon – University of Phoenix
"If you were to ask me today how Lupus has affected my life, I would simply state that it was the stepping-stone for positive change in my life. It forced me to look at my life and make healthier, positive choices."
Bradley Phan –Orange Coast University
“Living with lupus for 6 years has taught and molded me into the person I am today, a fighter… I learn that I live for today because Lupus has shown me that the only assurance I have is NOW. It is not about loving Lupus and being glad I got it. It's about milking the good out of all the bad that surrounds us."
Jena Trowbridge – University of Central Florida
“I have struggled with this disease, however Lupus will not have me, and I will not let it slow down my race for success… The 'load' of SLE has not broken me; I wake up ready to take on each day with Lupus as a warrior, a gladiator, a proud survivor."
Hannah Thomason– University of La Verne
“All of the frustrations related to my health I now see as a strange kind of blessing, as they have led me toward a profession I feel uniquely suited for…. Investing my life in providing care, instruction and encouragement to individuals who have shared similar struggles is a way I can utilize my experience as a woman with Lupus to personally help make the world a better place.“
Whitney Hutchinson– South Dakota State University
“As I mature Lupus has made me understand that you need to live in the moment, because you never know what tomorrow might bring. I learned that I need to appreciate all the little things in my life because they usually add up to the big moments. I laugh harder, love more and give more of myself to the people who matter most to me.... I take life one day at a time and take head on what life has to give. Lupus is what I have not who I am.”
Magdalene Quintero– University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
“Regardless of the scars on my fingers and toes, I don’t let my disease take over my entire life. I believe God gave me my challenges so I can help others. My experience of living with Lupus pushes me beyond my own endurance, because I know I will become a M.D., Ph.D. pediatric rheumatologist.”
Bethany Martinez – University of Central Florida
"Making the effort to push myself, in spite of my illness, started the momentum within me… I had emerged from my shell, and was not turning back. I chose to live every minute of my life… I openly share information about my illness, to help others realize that challenges can be overcome as long as your attitude remains positive and your conviction remains strong."
Frances Trosa- St. John's University
"Lupus is a very quiet disease... No one can look at me and see the pain I am in or the mental exhaustion I am fighting against...The least I can offer is what lupus has offered me - compassion and understanding."
2012 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Amanda Moyer – University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
"Lupus opened the door to determination, empathy, compassion, a love of science, and a drive to understand. Lupus has prepared me to become an amazing doctor. Hopefully, I can credit lupus with my future task to eliminate lupus forever."
Holley Morgan - University of Hawaii, West Oahu
“[Lupus] brought out another side of me- Ambition! ..It has spurred a new passion and motivation in my life- I am capable of anything! … I have decided that Lupus can no longer hold me hostage to the limitless possibilities I am truly capable of.”
Jarrett Fowler – University of South Dakota, Vermillion
“Ultimately, I did not let lupus change my lifestyle for the worst. It gave me a positive outlook and the determination to keep a positive attitude. “
Jeffrey King – University of New Hampshire
“Lupus has impacted me by making me more motivated, focused, a stronger person… I wish to…succeed in creating the next revolutionary treatment for a once incurable disease..."
Kelsey Youngworth – Kansas State University
“Lupus has made me more appreciative for my own life… Lupus has taught me that with each day, I can meet the challenge and grow to be a more resilient person.”
Nicole Herrera – Cal State Long Beach
"Life with lupus isn't easy, but I try and make the best of it... I am thankful for the help and support everyone has given me… I am appreciative and blessed to have a supporting family, friends, and doctors."
Seth Menghi - Georgetown University
“Even though lupus has set me back physically, I was able to find the strength that I didn’t know existed to overcome the obstacles.”
Shanna Brown – Cleveland State University
"At 11 years old, I was diagnosed with lupus... My physical health was taken away, but the life it has given back to me is more fulfilling and joyous than I had ever known."
2011 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
Essex County College
“This is to say I somehow became the sole owner of a chronic disease that would forever plaque me. “Not so!” I declare the not-so old adage of “I may have Lupus, but Lupus does not have me”. “
California State University, Northridge
“It is true that life altering events change your outlook in life … I have become more optimistic and excited about new chapters in my life. I have even become more of a free spirit and a spontaneous person.”
University of Utah
“To me, it doesn’t do any good to be sad or depressed about my lot in life. The best thing I can do is wake up in the morning with a smile on my face and a determination to have a good day.”
Worcester State University
“The hardships we face do not define us. It is how we respond and cope with our circumstances that determine our strengths as individuals.”
“I was finally able to realize that no matter what happens to my physical body, the person who I am will always be there. I have finally come to accept the person that I am and that in part is due to my bout with Lupus.”
“Despite the odds against me, I am still alive and realize that things could be worse than they are.”
2010 L.I.F.E Scholarship Recipients
“Lupus does not define who I am. It is not me. Lupus is the enemy that has invaded my territory and seeks to devour what is mine...I declare victory over my enemy!"
“I am beginning to understand the importance of being present in the moment, rather than worrying about the future or past events, as well as the importance of accepting my illness and recognizing that having lupus is another "chapter" in the story of my life."
California Polytechnic State University
"I will work hard to achieve each of my dreams, but I have no way of predicting how Lupus will play into reality or when the wolf will reappear. And this is how Lupus has most incredibly affected my life: in preventing me from promising myself that each of these dreams will come true."
“By realizing the value and delicacy of life, I suddenly began to get more out of every single day, finding joy in everything I did.”
"Also, being more aware now that anything can happen in life, I treasure every moment and love everything around me."
"Lupus gave me two choices in life. One was to be pessimistic. The other was to do something about it. I chose the latter."
"I know what it is to be endlessly grateful for "good days" and for the friends and family who have journeyed with me through this. I know I will be a better doctor because I have lupus."
Former Scholarship Recipients
- Jennifer Garrett, Arizona State University
- Rachel Hirshfield, New York University
- Endya Frye, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
- Bianca Augusto, University of Florida
- Micaella Cabral, UC Santa Barabara
- Cheryl Nangit, University of California, Irvine
- Tunisia Bulluck, East Carolina University
- Katherine Skaggs, Virginia Commonwealth University
- Lindsay Gordon -- Georgia College & State University
- Courtney Morgan -- East Carolina University
- Julianna Corbett -- Depaul University
- Sara Alspaugh -- Northeastern State University
- Sandra Crusa -- St. Mary's University San Antonio
- Ruth Michael -- California State University, East Bay
- Michelle Spurling -- St. Mary's College
- Veronica Cruz -- Long Island University
- Gina Insalaco -- St. Louis University Grad Program
- Dana Turner -- Cardinal Stritch University
- Cristen Wetherbee -- Mercer University School of Law
- Carla Martinez -- Cal State University Long Beach
- Brittany Black -- University of Florida
- Emily Gunsberger -- University of Wisconsin
- Kirstin Badrak -- University of Texas
- Yesenia Godinez -- UC Irvine
- Kathryn Draper --University of Oklahoma
- Breya Chantarabunchorn -- Indiana University of PA
- Nicholas Cabal -- UC Berkeley
- Tracee Fultz -- New York University Graduate School-Wagner
- Sable G. Janney -- Morehead State University-Ohio
- Clarissa Marie Unger -- University of Kansas
- Erin Cobb -- University of North Texas
- Taryn West -- University of Oklahoma Health Science Center
- Janice Toskich -- Stetson University College of Law-Florida
- Holly Warman -- University of Montevallo, AL
- Ogechi Onwubu -- Monmouth University, NJ
- Nathaniel Braithwaite -- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Julia Hillengas -- Temple University, PA
- Keelia Postlethwaite -- University of Oklahoma
- Melany Nitzsche -- Webster University, MO
- Brittany Pritchard -- UNCA Asheville
- Anna Szafranski --Saginaw Valley State University
- Natasha Toe -- Rutgers, the State University of NJ
- Chelsea West -- University of Minnesota