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She Rose Initiative's "More Than a Conqueror" Scholarship

1 winner$500
Application Deadline
May 22, 2023
Winners Announced
Jun 23, 2023
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate or graduate student
3.0 or higher
Medical History:
Diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease
Field of Study:
STEM, healthcare, health, public health, or medicine
African American

There are more than 80 different known autoimmune diseases affecting more than 24 million people in the U.S. alone.

These diseases can be life-threatening and/or lifelong illnesses affecting bodily function. Having an autoimmune disease and dealing with its effects can make it difficult for those afflicted to focus on other tasks like pursuing college, especially for BIPOC individuals who systemically receive poorer medical care. 

This scholarship seeks to support African American female students who have autoimmune diseases and are pursuing higher education.

Any female African American undergraduate or graduate student with at least a 3.0 GPA who’s pursuing STEM, healthcare, public health, or medicine may apply for this scholarship if she has been diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease.

To apply, tell us how your autoimmune disease affects your life, education, and future goals and how this scholarship would help you reach your goals.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published December 23, 2022
Essay Topic

How does your autoimmune disease affect your life, education, and future goals? How will this scholarship help you achieve your educational and career goals?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Summer Lawrence
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillDurham, NC
At the end of every December, I create a list of things I want to happen in the next year. My 2022 list included getting a new job, a pay raise, a tattoo, and a healthy relationship. Do you know what was not on my list? Developing a life-altering autoimmune disorder. When I went to bed on June 12, 2022, I had no clue what the next morning would bring. I recall opening my eyes that morning and feeling my entire world spin. My first thought was, “Summer, what did you get into last night?” I distinctly remember attempting to stand up and immediately falling because my entire body gave out on me, and it felt as if I was in the middle of a tornado. I could not walk, so I crawled on the cold hardwood floor to inform my sister of my condition because I was going to die. I spent the next 24 hours experiencing intense bouts of vertigo and vomiting. The next morning, I was told that I was experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and it would go away with physical therapy. I felt a sense of relief because I knew this was something manageable. Imagine my shock when I began to lose my hearing two days later. My ears began ringing intensely and it felt as if I were underwater and could not pop my ears. At that point, I was preparing to begin a new role at work and begin the first semester of graduate school. This was the last thing I needed in my life right now. A month later, I was finally able to see an audiologist and ENT specialist where I was informed that I had mild to moderate hearing loss and all my symptoms indicated an autoimmune condition. After months of doctors, Prednisone, and intravenous steroids, I finally received a diagnosis of Cogan’s Syndrome, which is a rare autoimmune disease that primarily affects the eyes and inner ears. The next couple of months were the hardest months of my life. I considered giving up and giving into my deepest and darkest thoughts too many times. I could not handle the excruciating pain, fear of losing my hearing, weight gain from steroids, and awful side effects from all the medications. Beginning graduate school is a journey in itself but starting graduate school amid getting an autoimmune disease under control is an entirely different game. I sat through virtual meetings and classes in the dark with an ice pack over my right eye because of the inflammation the disease causes. I missed countless networking events and school engagements due to not being able to drive, hear, or even keep my eyes open. One thing I have learned throughout this diagnosis is the importance of access to adequate health care. As a current public health student, I am aware of the health disparities that continuously plague our world. Seeing it firsthand as a patient made that even clearer. Earning this scholarship would give me a greater chance to further my education in public health and do professional work to improve and implement systems to fight those disparities. Every single day is a constant battle to not let Cogan’s Syndrome take over my life. Continuing my education to learn more about public health and systems change is what drives me to get up and push through fatigue, pain, and fear. I am confident that I will reach my goals and not let this autoimmune disease get the best of me.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 22, 2023. Winners will be announced on Jun 23, 2023.

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