"In Memory Of " Scholarship Recipients
"In Memory Of" Scholarships are dedicated in memory of a deceased loved one.
2014 Sponsored Awards
- Brina Olunkwa, In Memory of Catie Corcoran
The first L.I.F.E. "In Memory Of" Scholarship honors Catie Corcoran's life. It was donated by her mother, Donna, to 2014 winner Brina Olunkwa. .
Catie Corcoran was known for her witty humor, her will to survive and the determination to make every day count. Catie was diagnosed with lupus during her youth- the most difficult time for an individual to cope with a chronic life-threatening disease. L.I.F.E President Jodi Norton was introduced to Catie in Chicago prior to her bone marrow transplant treatment. According to Jodi, “I’ll never forget our conversations and her words of encouragement. Catie’s death was a loss, not only to her family, but to everyone who was fortunate to have known her.”
As a result of taking corticosteroids early in life, Catie suffered from many long term side effects including stunted growth, puffy face, weakened bones, weight gain and acne. There were times that strangers would stare at her distorted appearance, but her humor helped her get through the most difficult days.
Catie, with the love and support of her family- especially her mother, Donna, was able to move forward in her life. Catie valued education and was able to complete several years of college. She became a spokesperson for other lupus patients who were considering undergoing a BMT treatment.
Catie was a special person to many. She was a great daughter, sister, friend and advocate to those suffering from lupus. Her commitment to education and obtaining a college degree was unshakable. No matter how many times Catie started a semester and had to withdraw due to a lupus flare, she never gave up. Her perseverance was honorable.
Since her passing, Catie’s family has been a long-time supporter of L.I.F.E’s mission: to promote lupus awareness and to provide merit-based scholarships to those living with lupus who are beating the odds. According to her mother, “a day doesn’t pass without thinking about Catie, but at least she is no longer in pain. Catie will continue to be missed but never forgotten.”
2014 In Memory Sponsored Winner: Brina Olunkwa
18-year old Brina Olunkwa from Upper Marlboro, MD was featured in Lupus Now magazine in the fall of 2013 sharing her hardships associated with living with lupus and how she balances her busy schedule and inspires other teens who are living with lupus to live full lives despite the condition. Brina’s symptoms began in 8th grade dance class as it became difficult for her to bend her knees, suffered from shortness of breath and chest discomfort. She was taken to the emergency room by ambulance where she underwent emergency surgery for fluid in her lungs and brain. According to Brina, "I have a bad memory now, so I have to write everything down. I take naps after school so I can do my homework, and I go to sleep on time to make sure I can wake up and have enough energy for school and the day." Brina has persevered to succeed academically and to make her community better. She helps to organize multiple programs including the “Got Breakfast” program feeding the homeless and “Kidz Conection” program where she cares for children. She also was an active member of National Honor Society and was Senior Treasurer of her high school class. She received many awards including creative writing, Christian character and Christian service awards. In college, she will take classes to pursue her dream of becoming a medical researcher. “Though I have lupus which affects my physical being, my dreams and passions remain the same.”