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Hicks Scholarship Award

Funded by
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Hicks Family
1st winner$2,000
2nd winner$500
3rd winner$500
Application Deadline
May 18, 2024
Winners Announced
Jun 18, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Direct or indirect experience with cancer
Education Level:
High school senior, undergraduate or graduate student

Childhood cancer survivors often gain a unique perspective on life, health, and mortality.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, impacting not only the patient but their families, friends, and caregivers. For many, it can be a challenging, emotional, and transformative journey.

This scholarship aims to recognize and celebrate how a cancer experience can change lives in profound ways. It is a testament to the strength, resilience, and determination of individuals who have faced this disease head-on.

By channeling their profound experiences into a passion, they are able to contribute to society with a different lens.

Any high school senior, undergraduate or graduate student who has been impacted by cancer may apply for this scholarship, but childhood cancer survivors, their siblings or children, and applicants from the Midwest or South are preferred.

To apply for this scholarship, please write an essay detailing your personal background, including your cancer experience and how it has prepared you to pursue your academic and professional goals.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published November 7, 2023
Essay Topic

Please tell us about yourself, and discuss how your direct and/or indirect cancer experience has shaped your life and led to your academic and professional goals.

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Helia Baez
Carlos Albizu University-MiamiMiami, FL
My name is Helia Baez, I’m 19 years old. And I am a cancer survivor. At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with an aggressive tumor which required me to be in treatment for almost a year. During this time, I received both chemotherapy and radiation, as well as numerous transfusions. This was a very difficult time for both my family and me. I was constantly in pain, feeling ill, or nauseous. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing team of people supporting me, but I wouldn’t want any child to go through this alone. That is why after finishing treatment, I decided to volunteer on the oncology unit at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. I volunteered for 5 years during which I met many patients and survivors. I truly feel like I was able to make an impact on these kids; however, I had to stop volunteering because of complications with my health. Getting the opportunity to meet patients and become part of their journey is an experience I have no words for. I was able to be part of some of their milestones, such as the first and last chemo. I also served as the shoulder to cry on in the more difficult moments, like when hair loss began. Being part of experiences like this led me to want to pursue a career that allowed me to work with patients. Later this passion, combined with my love for psychology, led me to decide to become a clinical psychologist. I would like to focus my work specifically on young patients with chronic and severe illnesses, especially cancer. I know firsthand that this diagnosis can take a toll on a person, both physically and emotionally, so who better to help other patients, than myself? They can relate to me on a much deeper level than with other psychologists. Achieving this dream would not be easy, doctoral programs in clinical psychology are extremely competitive, and I knew that given everything, I would have to work twice as hard as anyone else, but I was going to let that stop me. I put my everything into my work allowing me to achieve a 3.97 GPA, partake in the honors college, conduct and present research as a McNair scholar, volunteer at a clinic for patients with anxiety, and participate in Relay for Life, among many other things. My hard work paid off, and I was accepted into my dream program, a Psy.D in Clinical Psychology! I’ve beat the odds more than once: first by surviving cancer and now by getting into this program. I am a fighter and resilient. I have overcome every obstacle from being first-generation to struggling with my health, to chemo brain. I am determined and ambitious, and I refuse to be seen as just a victim of cancer. That is why I would be a great candidate for this scholarship. I sit here today representing every cancer patient and survivor alike when I say that we aren’t victims who should be pitied; we are warriors who are fighting a battle that we didn’t choose but are determined to win. I hope that in the future I will be able to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of cancer patients, as well as pass along that message. I also hope to tell them my story and how I decided not to give up, instead, I’ve used it as motivation to give back to those facing the same inexplicable pain I faced. I hope that the Hicks Scholarship Award committee will stand alongside me as I do just that.
Ananya Kothamasu
Hebron High SchoolTHE COLONY, TX
It was February 16, 2020. The feeling of uncertainty and overwhelmingness crossed my mind as my family and I headed to the hospital. My legs felt jittery, and my hands were sweaty as the doctor walked in. At that moment, when the doctor spoke the four words I didn't want to hear, I choked back tears and cleared my throat. My parents, in shock, started to cry, and my sister looked at me with pity. And all I could think about was, does this mean I need chemotherapy? Does that mean I’ll be bald? So many thoughts rushed through my mind, and I began to sob quietly, growing louder and louder as the seconds passed. All that echoed throughout my thoughts was the doctor's voice saying, “Thyroid Cancer stage three.” It felt like walking into a dark room with no light. As a ninth grader stuck in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was already lost, but the diagnosis created a whole new realm of darkness. Covid was at its peak, leaving me with no contact with anyone. My grades started to fluctuate. I stopped speaking up in classes and lost connections with my childhood friends. Keeping and making friends become nearly impossible due to the fear of being called the “cancer kid.” A few months later, it was finally my surgery day, the day I dreaded the most. As I sat in the hospital bed, all prepped for surgery, all I could think was: Why me? Why do I have to go through all this? Why not somebody else? When the staff took me to the operating room, the smell of bleach made me feel nauseous. The beeping of the machines around me and seeing the doctors rushing through the halls felt like the world was spinning around me. When I woke up after surgery, all I could think about was the people who helped me get through the surgery and allowed me to become cancer-free. At that moment, I learned that I wanted to help people the same way my doctors helped me. A couple of years later, I started a club at my school inspired by my cancer experience, American Cancer Society on Campus. I started this club with the goal of helping current cancer patients and also educating the student population at school about different types of cancer. I was proud of myself when I realized I had created a community of people passionate about aiding future cancer patients, current cancer patients, and most importantly future cancer survivors. Over the summer of my junior year, I returned to the same hospital where I was treated —only this time, as a summer volunteer, not a patient. I was given the opportunity to welcome patients with a smile on my face, the same way I was greeted on my big day. I worked on the CCBD (Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders) floor, where I saw many critical cancer patients. All around me, patients were going into chemotherapy while others were happily going into remission. I will forever be grateful for not having to go through those experiences. Wanting to do more for the community while still in high school, I got my Medical Assistant certification. I started practicing at a free clinic, where we treat patients who are immigrants and don't have medical insurance. I go help out at this clinic whenever I am free and help out as much as possible. Through my different experiences in healthcare, I realized that I want to become a doctor and give back to my community to the maximum.
Brooklyn Lech
Millard West High SchoolOMAHA, NE
Cancer. The thing that everyone dreads. The thing I had always heard about, but never fully understood until it took the life of my best friend. My older sister, Taylor, was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord tumor as she entered her sophomore year of high school. After her first surgery, my parents took her for a second opinion and she had another surgery and became paralyzed from the waist down. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but watching your sister, your idol, and your best friend become paralyzed on top of a cancer diagnosis is brutal. It seemed like whenever we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did with a bad scan, being limited with therapy and visitors due to COVID-19, spread to her brain, etc. However, through the diagnosis and all Taylor went through, I learned more than I could have imagined about ambition, drive, and impact as I had the absolute best role model you could ask for. Ambition is something that Taylor had an abundance of. She had this overwhelming desire to achieve more than what anyone thought possible. She insisted that she would walk and drive again, but my mom could see by the responses and facial expressions of doctors that not all of them believed that. She went to 3+ hours of therapy daily, requested extra sessions on the weekends, and did her own exercises in her room. I honestly have never witnessed someone want anything more than her wanting to use her legs again. She set goals for herself that she worked hard to achieve, giving maximum effort. Even with treatment, when she was tired and sick, her ambition never diminished. I admire the determination Taylor had when pushing towards the things that she wanted. She did walk with a walker and crutches before the cancer spread to her brain. I have never been more proud. Taylor’s drive was unbelievable regarding school. She participated in all of her classes without being discouraged, even while inpatient for several months. She maintained a 4.0 while teaching herself and going through treatment. Taylor’s drive and determination are what got her through two rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and a drug trial in Michigan. I am inspired to push myself because she showed me what is possible to accomplish in a horrible situation. My sister made an impact on everyone that knew her. By being very friendly with positive energy and enthusiasm, she built strong relationships as though she wasn’t going through the hardest time in her life. She provided input regarding treatment and therapy. Most people would just do whatever they are told, but she would speak up if she didn’t agree with something. Even though Taylor’s life has come to an end, her story continues to make an impact. My mom and I created the Taylor Lech Foundation in her memory to raise money for pediatric cancer research and to help families with a cancer diagnosis. Taylor’s significant impact on others has inspired me to do the same by working to raise money through the foundation. My dream is to become an occupational therapist and help people get better. My ambition is to constantly learn and achieve to pursue my goals. I am determined to take in everything to become the best occupational therapist for my patients. Lastly, I will make sure I am not just any other therapist, but one that my patients feel comfortable with and will remember forever because of my impact. I am thankful for my sister, and all of the things that she and her cancer journey have taught me.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 18, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jun 18, 2024.

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