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Edelman Krasin & Jaye Scholarship Award Winners

Scholarship Award WinnersEdelman Krasin & Jaye are pleased to announce the three winners of our 2015 Scholarship Award for students at the high school, college or post-graduate level who must battle chronic illness as they strive to achieve their academic and career goals. The Edelman Krasin & Jaye Scholarship Award recognizes the courage and fortitude that students with chronic illness must display on a daily basis to succeed in the demanding world of higher education, and we encourage these students to continue finding the internal resources necessary to make their dreams become reality.

We were moved and gratified by the large number of scholarship applications we received, filled with personal stories of students overcoming the odds and piling up accomplishment after accomplishment. It was extremely difficult to select only three winners, and we wish all of our applicants continued success in their lives and careers.

Congratulations to the Edelman, Krasin & Jaye Scholarship Winners!

chelsea fisk

Chelsea Fisk – $1000 Chelsea is in her second year at Michigan State University, where she is dual-majoring in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, as well as Theater. Her interest in medicine emerged after falling suddenly ill with Ulcerative Colitis in her second year of high school. One day she hopes to work in neonatology, hematology, or transplant surgery, focusing her care on the youngest patients.

 

Rebekah WrightRebekah Wright – $1000 Rebekah is set to graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, despite facing the ongoing symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). She looks forward to a career at a non-profit or other organization where she can help other chronic pain sufferers lead productive, fulfilling lives. Please read Ms. Wright’s moving essay below.

 

Caleb BarnesCaleb H. Barnes – $500 Caleb looks forward to studying and playing college baseball at Limestone College in South Carolina, where he will begin his freshman year in Fall 2015. He intends to major in Communications to help educate the public about his illness, Crohn’s Disease, and to mentor and motivate other young people who are diagnosed with the disease.

 

denise pichardoDenise Pichardo – $500 Denise is about to begin law school at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida. Despite the difficulties of living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), she aims to become a criminal prosecutor to give a voice to victims in the legal system.

 

 

A Life Larger than my Pain by Rebekah Wright

            Someone once told me that the reason they experienced hurt so badly was because they were alive, not because they wanted to die. I live my daily life in excruciating chronic pain that may never end, but even in the misery of it I am consistently faced with the reminder that my heart beats, my lungs breathe, and I can open my eyes every morning. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is my cold water landing after a jump from a cliff, the slap in my face, my alarm clock every morning. This pain wakes me up, reminds me that I am alive, and pushes me to be extraordinary in my personal, academic, and professional conquests in contrast to my suffering.

At the age of fifteen, I rolled my ankle after poorly landing a jump in dance class. Five and half years of chronic pain later, I am one semester away from graduating university summa cum laude and one semester early with an honors degree. Although I have paid for my entire college career independently and although my experience with chronic pain forcibly caused me to quit my job, I stand to graduate debt-free. Certain aspects of my life help me to remember that I am not nearly as small as my illness makes me feel, and one of the strongest of these is academics.

            Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) has affected my life since February 2010, my sophomore year of high school, when I misjudged a jump in dance class and rolled my ankle. For a full year after my diagnosis I visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s pain clinic, composed of doctors as well as physical, psychological, and massage therapists. After this time I entered a period of remission. My remission from CRPS, though interrupted by random flares of pain, lasted from 2011 until January of 2015. Many factors caused this, including cold weather, mental stress caused by academic and work factors, and physical stress caused by my job as a server at Bob Evans. I have been attending the pain clinic again since March, this time visiting an acupuncturist rather than a massage therapist, but my recovery has been much slower and more reluctant.

            The extended pain flare that I have experienced this year has affected my life in many areas, not the least being my academic career. Because of the near-constant pain and fatigue caused by my illness, I was forced to miss classes several times and had a much harder time completing assignments than my peers. I am a commuter student, and that added to the illness-caused difficulties. CRPS also affected other parts of my life, causing me to quit my job as a server in March. This decision in turn affected my academics; I am financially supporting my own degree and was therefore plunged into financial uncertainty and stress over tuition fees.

            Although I considered taking a medical leave from university last semester, school is my highest priority right now and I knew that I must fight to the finish, no matter how challenging and painful it was. This value holds true as I face my last semester. With no source of income, my final tuition payment may prove to be too much for me. This concern is forcing me to prioritize my values: would I rather live with the certainty of no debt, or push through no matter the physical and financial cost in order to receive my degree? My consistent and resonant answer is to graduate as soon as possible; not to get school “over with”, but to achieve a college degree with honors, something I have always hoped for.

CRPS has caused much uncertainty in my life, and this carries over to my future professional career. I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in Spanish. I would like to apply my degree, as well as my language skills, toward a job either at a nonprofit organization or another career in helping others. That being said, I hope to study to become both a doula and possibly even a yoga teacher on the side, as well. I have a passion for humans and for life, and want to help others to live their most healthy and fulfilling lives possible. My CRPS experience has taught me much about suffering, about pain, and about doubt, and has inspired me to prevent these realities in others’ lives as much as possible. Whether the pain of others is physical or emotional, I would like to do my part to help others prevent and cope with life’s agonies.

I know that I am strong, intelligent, and capable, and instead of making me doubt myself, CRPS has proven these truths even more in my life. Although I finished high school and will financially support my education through college with a crippling chronic pain disorder that forced me to quit my job, I have made it to my final semester as a senior with zero dollars in debt. Although I was unable to make it to several class sessions due to the pain and fatigue I experience daily, my final honors degree stands to read summa cum laude. I even have an honors research project in the works that my communication advisor believes could be worthy of an academic journal. CRPS has only caused the illusion of smallness. My heart is still big and open to others, I have achieved much academic success, and my future is full of bright possibilities. My constant pain reminds me that I am alive, and even when it feels like I am walking through a fire, I am still moving forward and achieving things that give me reason for pride in myself. CRPS has tried to shrink me, but the very experience of my pain has reminded me in contrast how much good and beauty there is in this life, and how much potential I have in myself to prevent others from experiencing similar trials.