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Abigail Poulin

2135

Bold Points

2x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Hello! My name is Abigail Poulin, and I am a first-generation Asian-American student. My parents adopted me from China at 5 years old. Since then, I have worked hard in my education and hope to one day return the support my family has provided me. Born with cerebral palsy, I grew up witnessing the incredible innovation and compassion of the medical industry. It has led me to discover the incredible potential of pharmacogenomics, a newer medical discipline studying the relationship between genetics and pharmacology. I want to carry on the legacies of the past while also creating new breakthroughs in science. Most importantly, I hope to be a voice for billions of underrepresented medically disabled children and adults. Recently, I have graduated from the College Academy at Broward College with honors, earning both my Associate of Arts degree and high school diploma. Outside of my academics, I am committed to serving my community, gaining new experiences, and building a network with current and future medical leaders. Beginning Fall of 2024, I will be attending the University of South Florida to earn my bachelor's in Biomedical Sciences as a Presidential Scholar. I am excited for this next chapter in my life and would greatly appreciate a scholarship to support my educational and career endeavors. Thank you for taking the time to read my profile!

Education

University of South Florida-Main Campus

Bachelor's degree program
2024 - 2028
  • Majors:
    • Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology
    • Medicine
    • Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration
    • Genetics
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other

Broward College

Associate's degree program
2022 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Biological and Physical Sciences

College Academy At Broward College

High School
2022 - 2024

J. P. Taravella High School

High School
2020 - 2022

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other
    • Biotechnology
    • Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration
    • Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science/Research and Allied Professions
    • Genetics
    • Medicine
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Pharmaceuticals

    • Dream career goals:

      Pharmacogenetics; Laboratory & Clinical Research

      Public services

      • Volunteering

        OneBlood — As a food service worker, I organized and distributed nutritious food to more than 85 student and teacher donors.
        2021 – 2021
      • Volunteering

        BrightStar Credit Union — As a student teller, I provided account services to the students and administration of J.P. Taravella High School, as well as promote financial literacy through presentations and surveys.
        2022 – 2022
      • Volunteering

        City of Coral Springs — As a camp counselor, my role was to organize educational activities about self-defense and safety protocols and engage in athletic and outdoor activities.
        2022 – 2022
      • Volunteering

        Church By the Glades — As a teaching assistant, my responsibilities included engaging with preschoolers in a variety of planned educational and artistic activities and monitoring the drop-off and pick-up periods.
        2021 – 2023
      • Volunteering

        College Academy at Broward College — My role was a student representative for College Academy at the open house for the Class of 2025 junior admissions. I assisted future students and families with questions and concerns about College Academy, especially with ESE and accomodations.
        2023 – 2023
      • Volunteering

        Delray Medical Center — As a receptionist, I worked with the security team to maintain a safe, welcoming, and organized medical environment for all staff, patients, and visitors.
        2023 – 2023

      Future Interests

      Advocacy

      Volunteering

      Philanthropy

      Jaimeson Williams Legacy Scholarship
      When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, a rare neurological disorder that impairs crucial motor skills. From a young age, I was acutely aware of how people saw me, whether from a fleeting passing at the grocery store or the daily interactions with my classmates. They only saw the braces strapped to my legs, my limp when I walked without them, and the back brace fixing an otherwise visible hump. Since then, my life has been a constant battle against the perceived limitations of my disability. In every school I had ever attended, I was either the only physically disabled student or the only one that was not in a wheelchair. My classmates and teachers would always see the braces and the limp, and many doubted my potential academically. However, this only ignited a fire within me to disprove people’s misconceptions. Despite the cognitive impairments posed by my disability, my determination never wavered. I learned to advocate for myself and even as other obstacles presented themselves, such as the sudden death of my mother during middle school, I pushed through. My hard work and perseverance paid off when I graduated with both an Associates of Arts degree and a high school diploma. My experiences have shown me the gaps in support for medical disabilities. We are perceived as less capable because of our differences and thus are not given the same opportunities. This realization has fueled my determination to advocate for those within the disabled community. For two years, I volunteered at my local church's youth program every weekend. I specifically worked with special needs children so I could provide them with the understanding and empathy that is often limited to them in this world. Additionally, I have volunteered as a receptionist at a hospital where I had the opportunity to interact with patients and their families during some of their most vulnerable moments. This experience taught me that showing empathy does not need to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple and impactful as offering a kind word, a listening ear, and a comforting presence. My dream is to be a pharmaceutical scientist, creating new treatments that prioritize patients' lives over profit. I recognize the limitations and challenges that many medically disabled individuals face when it comes to accessing healthcare. Today's pharmaceutical industry prioritizes maximizing profits over whether or not it helps patients. This has left billions of people in an extremely vulnerable state- physically, mentally, and financially. I am determined to restore the voices of the vulnerable and ensure that honesty, compassion, and inclusivity are at the forefront of the medical field. I am now preparing to begin the next chapter of my life at the University of South Florida. I will be majoring in Biomedical Sciences where I strive to continue to push myself and explore new opportunities. By becoming a leader in medicine, I hope to serve as a role model for others, demonstrating that our potential is limitless and that we should be proud of who we are. I recognize that my journey will not be easy, but I am motivated by the support I have received from my family and the opportunities I have been given thus far. It would be an honor to receive this scholarship as an acknowledgement of all the adversity I have overcome to create a legacy of love and acceptance to future generations of people like me. Thank you for considering my application.
      WCEJ Thornton Foundation Low-Income Scholarship
      Growing up, mental health was always a one-sided conversation in my household. When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy- a physical and cognitive disability. Realizing the difficulties I would have to endure, my parents tried to encourage a mindset of resilience and optimism. They wanted me to see my disability not as a limitation, but as a challenge to be met with perseverance and optimism. Their encouragement and high expectations were a double-edged sword. On one hand, it motivated me to overcome the perceived limitations of my disability. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into every physical therapy session, determined to be as strong as possible. In school, I worked hard to overcome the cognitive impairments that affected my learning, even if it meant staying after school for tutoring every day and studying past midnight every night. However, this pressure led to suppressing the natural insecurities that came with my disability, as well as the growing fear of falling behind and making mistakes. This fear was especially prominent in school as I felt I would never be as smart as other kids no matter how many straight A’s were on my report cards. It was not until tragedy struck my life in 2018 that I was forced to realize the dangers of being dishonest with my struggles. My mother passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer, only two months after her initial diagnosis, but after a lifetime of alcohol abuse. She hid her illness in plain sight, being able to drive the four hours to my monthly doctor’s appointments and homeschooling me when I needed to recover from major surgeries- all while consuming bottles of her favorite merlot. Her passing was a massive shock and forced me to confront the reality that even my family, which seemed invincible, struggled with their mental health. My mother's hidden battle gave me a new perspective on what it meant to be resilient in the face of adversity. It is not just about staying positive and pushing through. True strength lies in vulnerability and the courage to embrace it. This newfound understanding changed how I view every aspect of my life, from my relationships with myself and others to what I wanted for my life. I learned to embrace mistakes and allow myself to feel whatever I need to. I worked to overcome my fear of reaching out for help, especially to my dad, with whom I have built a stronger relationship. My dad embarked on his own journey with mental health through his grief and having to take on more responsibilities as a single parent. He has stepped up and been there for me in ways I will forever be grateful for. Now six years after my mother's passing, I am a more empathetic, determined, and compassionate person. I graduated with my high school diploma and an associate’s degree. In Fall 2024, I will embark on the next chapter of my life at the University of South Florida as a biomedical sciences major. My experiences have shaped my goals and aspirations profoundly. I am passionate about advocating for mental health awareness and creating a more compassionate healthcare system that recognizes the importance of emotional health on physical health. I hope my story is eventually able to open the conversation around mental health and show that vulnerabilities don't make us weak—it makes us human. Thank you for considering my application.
      To The Sky Scholarship
      Growing up, mental health was always a one-sided conversation in my household. When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy- a physical and cognitive disability. Realizing the difficulties I would have to endure, my parents tried to encourage a mindset of resilience and optimism. They wanted me to see my disability not as a limitation, but as a challenge to be met with perseverance and optimism. Their encouragement and high expectations were a double-edged sword. On one hand, it motivated me to overcome the perceived limitations of my disability. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into every physical therapy session, determined to be as strong as possible. In school, I worked hard to overcome the cognitive impairments that affected my learning, even if it meant staying after school for tutoring every day and studying past midnight every night. However, this pressure led to suppressing the natural insecurities that came with my disability, as well as the growing fear of falling behind and making mistakes. This fear was especially prominent in school as I felt I would never be as smart as other kids no matter how many straight A’s were on my report cards. It was not until tragedy struck my life in 2018 that I was forced to realize the dangers of being dishonest with my struggles. My mother passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer, only two months after her initial diagnosis, but after a lifetime of alcohol abuse. She hid her illness in plain sight, being able to drive the four hours to my monthly doctor’s appointments and homeschooling me when I needed to recover from major surgeries- all while consuming bottles of her favorite merlot. Her passing was a massive shock and forced me to confront the reality that even my family, which seemed invincible, struggled with their mental health. My mother's hidden battle gave me a new perspective on what it meant to be resilient in the face of adversity. It is not just about staying positive and pushing through. True strength lies in vulnerability and the courage to embrace it. This newfound understanding changed how I view every aspect of my life, from my relationships with myself and others to what I wanted for my life. I learned to embrace mistakes and allow myself to feel whatever I need to. I worked to overcome my fear of reaching out for help, especially to my dad, with whom I have built a stronger relationship. My dad embarked on his own journey with mental health through his grief and having to take on more responsibilities as a single parent. He has stepped up and been there for me in ways I will forever be grateful for. Now six years after my mother's passing, I am a more empathetic, determined, and compassionate person. I graduated with my high school diploma and an associate’s degree. In Fall 2024, I will embark on the next chapter of my life at the University of South Florida as a biomedical sciences major. My experiences have shaped my goals and aspirations profoundly. I am passionate about advocating for mental health awareness and creating a more compassionate healthcare system that recognizes the importance of emotional health on physical health. I hope my story is eventually able to open the conversation around mental health and show that vulnerabilities don't make us weak—it makes us human.
      West Family Scholarship
      From a young age, I was aware of the lack of support for medically disabled people. I was born with cerebral palsy, a rare cognitive disorder. My birth parents, unable to provide the support I needed, had to give me up for adoption. When I was five, I was blessed to be adopted by a family whose kindness and sacrifices have shaped my perspectives and motivations. My parents' unwavering support and belief in my potential instilled in me an immense sense of gratitude and determination. With their encouragement, I worked hard in my education, overcoming my cognitive impairments and learning to advocate for myself. I have now graduated with an Associate's degree and a high school diploma from an early-college program. These achievements are reflections of my resolve to not let others define my potential. My experiences have shown me the gaps in support for medical disabilities. We are perceived as less capable because of our differences and thus are not given the same opportunities. This realization has fueled my determination to advocate for those within the disabled community. In my freshmen and sophomore years of high school, I volunteered at my local church's youth program every weekend. I specifically worked with special needs children so I could provide them with the understanding and empathy that is often limited to them in this world. Through this experience, I witnessed firsthand the impact showing acceptance and compassion can have. I am committed to continue encouraging and advocating for my community. Additionally, I have volunteered as a receptionist at a hospital where I had the opportunity to interact with patients and their families during some of their most vulnerable moments. This experience taught me that showing empathy does not need to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple and impactful as offering a kind word, a listening ear, and a comforting presence. I am motivated to pursue a career in the medical field, with advocacy and representation at the forefront of my values. My dream is to be a pharmaceutical scientist, creating new treatments that prioritize patients' lives over profit. I recognize the limitations and challenges that many medically disabled individuals face when it comes to accessing healthcare. Today's pharmaceutical industry prioritizes maximizing profits over whether or not it helps patients. This has left billions of people in an extremely vulnerable state- physically, mentally, and financially. I am determined to restore the voices of the vulnerable and ensure accessible healthcare for current and future generations. I am committed to ensuring that honesty, compassion, and inclusivity are at the forefront of the medical field. I recognize that my journey will not be easy, but I am motivated by the support I have received from my family and the opportunities I have been given thus far. I am now preparing to begin the next chapter of my life at the University of South Florida. I will be majoring in Biomedical Sciences where I strive to continue to push myself and explore new opportunities. I hope to find or create a community of future medical leaders who share my passions for creating a more equitable future. It would be an honor to receive this scholarship as a recognition of the strong individual I have become and as an encouragement for the leader I aspire to be. Thank you for considering my application.
      Miguel Mendez Social Justice Scholarship
      From a young age, I became aware of the lack of support for medically disabled people. I was born with cerebral palsy, a rare cognitive disorder. My birth parents, unable to provide the support I needed, made the difficult decision to give me up for adoption. When I was five, I was blessed to be adopted by a family whose kindness and sacrifices have since shaped my perspective on life and motivated me to make a positive impact on the world. My parents' unwavering support and belief in my potential instilled in me a profound sense of gratitude and determination. With their encouragement, I worked hard in my education, overcoming my cognitive impairments and learning to advocate for myself. I have now graduated with an Associate's degree and a high school diploma from an early-college program. These achievements are not merely academic milestones but reflections of my resolve to not let others define my own potential. My experiences have shown me the gaps in support for medically disabled individuals. Our institutions recognize our differences, yet fail to provide the support that is needed to achieve the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals. This realization has fueled my passion for advocacy and to be a voice for those within the disabled community. In my freshmen and sophomore years of high school, I volunteered at my local church's youth program, specifically working with special needs children. I wanted to provide them with the understanding and empathy that is often limited to them in this world. I have seen firsthand the difference that acceptance and compassion can make in their lives, and I am committed to continue encouraging and advocating for them. In addition to my work at the church, I have also volunteered as a receptionist at a hospital where I had the opportunity to interact with patients and their families during some of their most challenging moments. This experience taught me that empathy does not require a grand gesture. It can be as simple and impactful as offering a kind word, a listening ear, and a comforting presence. I am motivated to pursue a career in the medical field, with advocacy and representation at the forefront of my values. My dream is to be a pharmaceutical scientist, creating new treatments that prioritize patients' lives over profit. I recognize the limitations and challenges that many medically disabled individuals face when it comes to accessing effective treatment. Today's pharmaceutical industry often focuses on maximizing profits over the actual health and safety of patients. This has left those with disabilities in an extremely vulnerable state- physically, mentally, and financially. I am determined to restore the voices of the vulnerable and ensure accessible healthcare for current and future generations. I recognize that my journey will not be easy, but I am motivated by the support I have received from my family and the opportunities I have been given thus far. I am committed to ensuring that compassion and inclusivity are at the forefront of medical advancements. This is my mission and I am determined to see it through. Thank you for considering my application.
      Scorenavigator Financial Literacy Scholarship
      Money has always played a significant role in my life, but not in the way it does for many. Money has been intertwined with my health, family, and a drive for my future. When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy- a cognitive disability impacting crucial motor skills. Since then, my parents have made many financial sacrifices to ensure I had the support I needed and the opportunities to succeed. This has profoundly influenced my understanding and approach to financial literacy. My mother decided to become a stay-at-home parent, prioritizing my needs over her career. She was there for every doctor’s appointment, every therapy session, and during the long months of recovery after intensive surgeries. In between, she was my teacher, helping me with my schoolwork during my weakest moments, as well as my best friend. Her support had the biggest impact on my progress and mental health, but it came with financial sacrifices. My father had to work tirelessly to support our family, ensuring we could afford what we needed despite relying on a single income. His unwavering strength and optimism were the pillars of our family. When my mother passed away from cancer in 2018, our lives changed forever. My father had to take on more responsibilities as a single parent, and I faced the challenge of attending physical school for the first time in years. Together, we had tried to process the grief of losing my mother and my dad’s love of twenty years. This transition was difficult, but it also marked the start of a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. In 7th grade, I joined my school’s DECA program and began learning about business and economics. This program opened my eyes to the importance of financial literacy and was the first time I felt empowered through education. It was also the first time I ever considered planning my future based on what I wanted out of my life rather than how to alleviate the burden of my disability on myself and my father. I continued with DECA through the rest of middle school and into high school. Over those years, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone with new opportunities, from running virtual businesses with my classmates to participating solo in state financial literacy competitions. These experiences were invaluable, allowing me to discover myself. During my junior and senior years of high school, I was given the opportunity to attend a full-time dual-enrollment program at Broward College. This opportunity allowed me to earn an associate’s degree alongside my high school diploma, alleviating some of the future costs of college. In this program, I explored different career paths while considering how to finance future opportunities. I took this time to figure out what I wanted to do in my life, weighing the financial implications of each path. Except, this time, I did not ignore the importance of choosing a career I was passionate about. Beginning Fall of 2024, I will attend the University of South Florida as a BrightFutures and Presidential Award recipient. I plan to use what I have learned through my financial education to empower myself to create the future I want. I aspire to become a pharmacist, a career that fulfills my desire to make a difference in this world but also allows me to afford the things I want in life. I am determined to work hard in my education and career to honor the sacrifices my parents have made for me and to also live a life for me. Thank you for considering my application.
      Our Destiny Our Future Scholarship
      From a young age, I became aware of the lack of support for medically disabled people. I was born with cerebral palsy, a rare cognitive disorder. My birth parents, unable to provide the support I needed, made the difficult decision to give me up for adoption. When I was five, I was blessed to be adopted by a family whose kindness and sacrifices have since shaped my perspective on life and motivated me to make a positive impact on the world. My parents' unwavering support and belief in my potential instilled in me a profound sense of gratitude and determination. With their encouragement, I worked hard in my education, overcoming my cognitive impairments and learning to advocate for myself. I have now graduated with an Associate's degree and a high school diploma from an early-college program. These achievements are not merely academic milestones but reflections of my resolve to not let others define my own potential. My experiences have shown me the gaps in support for medically disabled individuals. Our institutions recognize our differences, yet fail to provide the support that is needed to achieve the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals. This realization has fueled my passion for advocacy and to be a voice for those within the disabled community. In my freshmen and sophomore years of high school, I volunteered at my local church's youth program, specifically working with special needs children. I wanted to provide them with the understanding and empathy that is often limited to them in this world. I have seen firsthand the difference that acceptance and compassion can make in their lives, and I am committed to continue encouraging and advocating for them. In addition to my work at the church, I have also volunteered as a receptionist at a hospital where I had the opportunity to interact with patients and their families during some of their most challenging moments. This experience taught me that empathy does not require a grand gesture. It can be as simple and impactful as offering a kind word, a listening ear, and a comforting presence. I am motivated to pursue a career in the medical field, with advocacy and representation at the forefront of my values. My dream is to be a pharmaceutical scientist, creating new treatments that prioritize patients' lives over profit. I recognize the limitations and challenges that many medically disabled individuals face when it comes to accessing effective treatment. Today's pharmaceutical industry often focuses on maximizing profits over the actual health and safety of patients. This has left those with disabilities in an extremely vulnerable state- physically, mentally, and financially. I am determined to restore the voices of the vulnerable and ensure accessible healthcare for current and future generations. I recognize that my journey will not be easy, but I am motivated by the support I have received from my family and by the opportunities I have been given thus far. I am committed to ensuring that compassion and inclusivity are at the forefront of medical advancements. This is my mission and I am determined to see it through.
      SigaLa Education Scholarship
      When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, a rare neurological disorder that impairs crucial motor skills. From a young age, I was acutely aware of how people saw me, whether from a fleeting passing at the grocery store or the daily interactions with my classmates. They only saw the braces strapped to my legs, my limp when I walked without them, and the back brace fixing an otherwise visible hump. Since then, my life has been a constant battle against the perceived limitations of my disability. Being the minority meant that I was going to have to represent myself, to advocate for myself, because there was no one else who could. In every school I had ever attended, I was either the only physically disabled student or the only one that was not in a wheelchair. My classmates and teachers would always see the braces and the limp, and many doubted my potential academically. However, this only ignited a fire within me to succeed against all odds. Despite the cognitive impairments posed by my disability, my determination never wavered. I fought for my accommodations, went to tutoring after school, and studied past midnight. Even as other obstacles presented themselves, such as intensive leg surgeries and the sudden death of my mother during middle school, I pushed through. My hard work and perseverance paid off when I was able to graduate with both an Associates of Arts degree and a high school diploma from a two-year, early-college program. This achievement was not just a personal victory; it was a testament to my ability to overcome the barriers imposed by others' misconceptions. These struggles have not only shaped my character but also inspired my career. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, not just as a patient but as a witness to the incredible world of medicine. While others might see these experiences as unfortunate, I appreciated these unique opportunities to learn. The doctors and nurses who cared for me were my most valuable teachers, and the science journals on new treatments were my favorite textbooks. I became especially fascinated in the study of pharmacogenomics, a revolutionary technology that analyzes how one’s genetic makeup affects responses to certain drugs. This fascination soon developed into a calling. I aspire to become a research pharmacist, driven by a desire to advocate for human compassion when developing new drug treatments. My journey has also instilled in me a profound sense of empathy and a commitment to fostering inclusivity. I want to empower others with medical disabilities to pursue their dreams, no matter how impossible others might perceive it. By becoming a leader in medicine, I hope to serve as a role model for others, demonstrating that our potential is limitless and that we should be proud to be part of a strong minority. It would be an honor to receive this scholarship as an acknowledgement of all the adversity I have overcome to create a legacy of love and acceptance to future generations of people like me. Thank you for your consideration.
      Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
      Growing up, mental health was always a one-sided conversation in my household. When I was five years old, I was adopted by my parents. But soon after I was able to come home for the first time, I was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy- a physical and cognitive disability. Realizing the difficulties I would have to endure, my parents tried to encourage a mindset of resilience and optimism. They wanted me to see my disability not as a limitation, but as a challenge to be met with perseverance and optimism. Their encouragement and high expectations were a double-edged sword. On one hand, it motivated me to overcome the perceived limitations of my disability. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into every physical therapy session, determined to be as strong as I could. In school, I worked hard to overcome the cognitive impairments that affected my learning, even if it meant staying after school for tutoring every day and studying past midnight every night. However, this pressure led to suppressing the natural insecurities that came with my disability, as well as the growing fear of falling behind and making mistakes. This fear was especially prominent in school as I felt I would never be as smart as other kids no matter how many straight A’s were on my report cards. Even when admitted to an early-college program for my sophomore and junior years of high school, I still felt inadequate and struggled to see my intelligence and achievements. It was not until tragedy struck my life in 2018 that I was forced to realize the dangers of being dishonest with my struggles. My mother passed away from stage four pancreatic cancer, only two months after her initial diagnosis, but after a lifetime of alcohol abuse. She hid her illness in plain sight, being able to drive the four hours to my monthly doctor’s appointments and homeschooling me when I needed to recover from major surgeries- all while consuming bottles of her favorite merlot from dusk to dawn every day. Her passing was a massive shock and forced me to confront the reality that even my family, which seemed invincible, had been struggling with their mental health for decades. In the aftermath of my mother’s death, my father and I had to work on changing a mindset that was so deeply ingrained in us. My mother's hidden battle gave me a new perspective on what it meant to be resilient in the face of adversity. It is not just about staying positive and pushing through. True strength lies in vulnerability and the courage to confront and address our vulnerabilities. This newfound understanding changed how I view every aspect of my life, from my relationship with myself and my disability to relationships with other people to academic aspirations. I learned to embrace mistakes and allow myself to feel whatever I need to. I worked to overcome my fear of reaching out for help, especially to my dad, with whom I have built a stronger relationship. My dad embarked on his journey with mental health through his grief and having to take on more responsibilities as a single parent. He has stepped up and been there for me in ways I will forever be grateful for. Now six years after my mother's passing, I am a more empathetic, determined, and compassionate person. I graduated with my high school diploma and an associate’s degree. In Fall 2024, I will embark on the next chapter of my life at the University of South Florida as a biomedical sciences major. My experiences have shaped my goals and aspirations profoundly. I am passionate about advocating for mental health awareness and creating a more compassionate healthcare system that recognizes the importance of emotional health on physical health. I am not only committed to making a difference for patients but also for the millions of healthcare workers who face massive stigmatization and scrutiny for their mental health struggles. I hope my story is eventually able to open the conversation around mental health and show that vulnerabilities don't make us weak—it makes us human. Thank you for considering my application.
      A Man Helping Women Helping Women Scholarship
      In a world where everyone competes to be the best of the best, the top 1%, I have always strived to be average, to be part of the other 99%. But with a prominent hunchback and braces strapped to my legs, my ambition is quite ironic. Cerebral palsy has made my life anything but average. From navigating insecurities about my disability to overcoming learning difficulties, my personal and educational journeys have been marked with adversity. Standing out requires minimal effort on my part. Growing up, I was constantly asked “Why do you walk that way?” to which my autopilot response was always “I was born this way” before forming an escape plan to avoid further questions. Teachers would learn my name through monthly doctor’s notes excusing my absences as I had to make the four-hour car trips to Shriners Children’s Hospital for new braces and muscle relaxants. Cerebral palsy made me far from the average classmate, but I was still fortunate to have a mild form of it. Yet, in a society that often measures disability by its visibility, I have fought with the insecurity of not being “disabled” enough for my struggles to be validated. While I am not in a wheelchair or fully mentally handicapped, abilities that others have taken for granted require extra effort on my part. Similarly, my educational journey has been motivated by the desire to be average despite my challenges with cerebral palsy. As an advanced student, I have always excelled in my studies, continuously surpassing expectations from my parents and teachers. However, I have always had to work harder compared to my classmates to grasp the same material. The dissonance between my intellectual capabilities and my cognitive impairments often left me frustrated, but ignited a determination to bridge the gap between potential and reality. This has led me to outside opportunities to narrow the gap of support and resources for medically disabled people. I have worked with ESE children at my local church as a pre-k assistant and provided support to the patients and dedicated medical staff at Delray Medical Center. Cerebral palsy has been most vital in fostering my passions in genetics and medicine. I have had the opportunity to witness not only the intelligence and compassion of the medical profession, but also the strength and gratitude of patients and their families. This has led me on a life-long mission to advocate against the negative misinformation of the medical industry and restore the humanization of the people working behind it. Recently, I have graduated with both my high school diploma and Associates through the College Academy at Broward College. Beginning of Fall 2024, I will attend the University of South Florida’s Biomedical Sciences program as a Presidential Scholar. After earning my bachelor's, I will decide my commitment to either genetics or pharmacy. But regardless of my choice, I intend to participate in research into advancements in biotechnology for under-represented medical disabilities. I am excited to begin this new part of my life and it would not have been possible without the resilience that my disability has instilled in me, along with the constant support from my family, doctors, and teachers. They have given me the mental strength to overcome my physical weakness and receiving this scholarship would allow me to show my appreciation towards those people and to carry on their legacies of love and acceptance to the future generations of people like me. Thank you for your consideration.
      Udonis Haslem Foundation BDJ40 Scholarship
      Growing up, mental health was always a one-sided conversation in my household. My parents recognized the obstacles I would face as an Asian-American girl with cerebral palsy. However, they were determined to not let my life be limited by my disability. Instead, they encouraged me to see it as a challenge to be met with determination and hard work. My parents' unwavering support led to celebrating every achievement, no matter how small, and instilled in me a fierce drive to succeed. However, their one-sided approach to mental health meant that emotions were often suppressed. There was little room for vulnerability in our household. The focus was always on being strong and maintaining a positive perspective, regardless of the mental toll it took. From walking around in a grocery store to doing homework, cerebral palsy affected every aspect of my life. Every morning started by putting on my leg braces and not a day would go by without being asked by random strangers about the way I walked. I never broke my streak of finishing homework by midnight and used every second of the extended time I was accommodated on exams. I was exhausted from having to always be on edge but admitting to my feelings was akin to admitting defeat in my family. So, I learned to bury my struggles deep inside, forcing a mindset of invincibility to pressure. It was not until tragedy struck my family in 2018 that the pressure began to bubble on the surface. My mother, who had always been the biggest pillar of strength in my life, passed away from stage 4 cancer. However, her fierce and quick battle with the disease revealed a more volatile war with addiction that she had tried to hide in plain sight for years. In the short month between her diagnosis and death, I was forced to confront the dangers of not acknowledging your demons. My mother's struggles gave me a new perspective on what it meant to be resilient in the face of adversity. It isn’t just about enduring hardships but also about recognizing when we need to reach out for help. I came to realize that true strength lies in vulnerability and in the courage to confront and address one’s vulnerabilities. Reflecting on my upbringing, I realize that while my parents' approach to resilience and determination shaped much of who I am, my journey toward embracing mental health has been equally defining. My mother's hidden battle and her untimely death taught me that acknowledging our vulnerabilities doesn't make us weak—it makes us human. This lesson has been instrumental in shaping my beliefs, fostering genuine relationships, and guiding my aspirations to make a difference in the world. I became interested in the medical field, particularly in the newer field of pharmacogenetics. I hope to contribute to a future where mental health is included in the research and practice of medicine.
      Robert and Suzi DeGennaro Scholarship for Disabled Students
      In a world where everyone competes to be the best of the best, the top 1%, I have always strived to be average, part of the other 99%. But with a prominent hunchback and braces strapped to my legs, my ambition is quite ironic. Cerebral palsy has made my life anything but average. From navigating insecurities about my disability to overcoming learning difficulties, my personal and educational journeys have been marked with adversity. Standing out requires minimal effort on my part. Growing up, I was constantly asked “Why do you walk that way?” to which my autopilot response was always “I was born this way” before forming an escape plan to avoid further questions. Teachers would learn my name through monthly doctor’s notes excusing my absences as I had to make the four-hour car trips to Shriners Children’s Hospital for new braces and muscle relaxants. Cerebral palsy made me far from the average classmate, but I was still fortunate to have a mild form of it. Yet, in a society that often measures disability by its visibility, I have fought with the insecurity of not being “disabled” enough for my struggles to be validated. While I am not in a wheelchair or fully mentally handicapped, abilities that others have taken for granted require extra effort on my part. Similarly, my educational journey has been motivated by the desire to be average despite my challenges with cerebral palsy. As an advanced student, I have always excelled in my studies, continuously surpassing expectations from my parents and teachers. However, I have always had to work harder compared to my classmates to grasp the same material. The dissonance between my intellectual capabilities and my cognitive impairments often left me frustrated but ignited a determination to bridge the gap between potential and reality. This has led me to outside opportunities to narrow the gap of support and resources for medically disabled people. I have worked with ESE children at my local church as a pre-k assistant and provided support to the patients and dedicated medical staff at Delray Medical Center. Cerebral palsy has been vital in fostering my passion for pharmacogenomics, a newer science discipline combining the innovation of pharmacology and genetics. I have had the opportunity to witness not only the intelligence and compassion of the medical profession but also the strength and gratitude of patients and their families. This has led me on a lifelong mission to advocate against the negative misinformation of the medical industry and restore the humanization of the people working behind it. As a high school senior at the College Academy at Broward College, I have undertaken rigorous courses that will allow me to graduate with my Associates of Arts with my high school diploma. Most recently, I have been admitted into the University of South Florida’s Biomedical Sciences program as a Presidential Scholar. After earning my bachelor's, I plan to enroll in the Taneja College of Pharmacy at USF and participate in research into advancements in pharmacogenomics for under-represented medical disabilities. I am excited to begin this new part of my life and it would not have been possible without the resilience that my disability has instilled in me, along with the constant support from my family, doctors, and teachers. They have given me the mental strength to overcome my physical weakness. Receiving this scholarship would allow me to show my appreciation towards those people and carry on their legacies of love and acceptance to future generations of people like me. Thank you for considering my application.
      Resilient Scholar Award
      From next-door neighbors to extended family, my family seemed to be a source of inspiration and admiration to everyone around us. The heartwarming story of my parents opening their hearts and adopting a disabled orphan girl from China painted a picture of love, compassion, and strength. However, behind the façade of a picture-perfect family, was a constant darkness lurking in the shadows. It was not just a few glasses a day; it was bottles of her favorite wine that my mother consumed from the moment she woke up to throughout a single day. My mother’s emotional outburst, driven by her addiction, casted a dark cloud over our family. The unpredictable nature of her behavior created a volatile and tense environment, where fear and anxiety hid the unconditional love that existed. It wasn’t until my mother’s sudden diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer that the truth could no longer hide itself behind a rose-tinted picture frame. As the cancer weakened her body, I finally saw how frail her mind was. During that time, I was hit with a rush of different emotions – confusion, anger, sadness, and finally realization. My mother had never overcome her trauma and now her body had finally succumbed to the toxins she had poisoned herself all these years with to numb the pain. She passed away only a month after her diagnosis, finally ending her life-long war with addiction. The sudden and devastating death of my mother left a void in my life. Amid the grief and confusion, my father and I found ourselves navigating a distant relationship while processing our grief and adapting to our new reality. With my disability adding another layer of complexity, my father had to take on more medical and emotional responsibilities. Despite overcoming his own grief, my father stepped up to the plate in ways I will be forever grateful for. My mother’s struggles gave me a sense of purpose, and a drive to make sense of the chaos that had consumed my family’s life. I became interested in genetics and medicine as there was a clear history of mental illness and cancer in my mother’s family. Discovering the intricacies of addiction gave me the closure and understanding I had desperately sought in the wake of her death. I came to recognize the depth of her pain and the strength it took for her to face each day, despite her demons. Over time, my father and I were able to build the bridge to our bond and we leaned on each other for support. Together, we hold a mutual determination to honor her memory and create a legacy of love, compassion, and resilience.
      Eleanor Anderson-Miles Foundation Scholarship
      I thought I knew what addiction looked like. To me, addiction was the person on every street corner in Miami, hollow eyes begging for money to buy drugs. Or it was the empty bottles strewn across a table while the person was passed out on the couch. It was an image so cemented in my mind that I failed to recognize it right before me in my mother’s eyes. To me, my mother was a warrior who overcame her trauma and fulfilled her dreams of motherhood. In November of 2010, my parents made the 20-hour trip to China to bring me home after a two-year-long adoption process. Despite my disability, my parents showed me unconditional love and acceptance. My mother was always there for me, from making the four-hour drive every month to Shriners Children's Hospital to quitting her job so she could homeschool me while I recovered from surgery in middle school. Despite her immense strength, there was always a shadow lurking beneath the surface. It was not just a couple of glasses throughout the day; it was liters of bottles that my mother consumed from the moment she woke up. When we made our daily trips to Walgreens, I found myself role-playing with my mother. Instead of being the child, I had to act as the parent, pleading with her not to buy her favorite bottle of wine. My mother’s addiction was a war that my father and I had been unknowingly deployed in as soldiers in combat ever since I can remember. Even as my father tried to shield me from the brunt of her episodes, our relationship ultimately was strained due to the endless volatile cycle. My father was a strong and compassionate man, but he was powerless in the face of my mother’s demons. It wasn’t until my mother’s sudden diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer that the truth unraveled before me. As the cancer weakened her body, I finally saw how frail her mind was. During that time, I was hit with a rush of different emotions – confusion, anger, sadness, and finally realization. My mother had never overcome her trauma and now her body had finally succumbed to the toxins she had poisoned herself all these years with to numb the pain. She passed away only a month after her diagnosis, finally ending her life-long war with addiction. Amid my grief, I had a newfound sense of compassion and empathy. My mother’s struggles gave me a sense of purpose, and a drive to make sense of the chaos that had consumed my family’s life. I became interested in genetics as there was a clear history of mental illness and cancer in her family. Discovering the intricacies of addiction gave me the closure and understanding I had desperately sought in the wake of her death. Through our mourning, my father and I were able to build the bridge to our bond and we leaned on each other for support. Together, we held a mutual determination to honor her memory and create a legacy for her of strength, compassion, and love. Even years after her passing, my mother’s story has continued to inspire me and give me the will to endure any adversity. Her sacrifices for the sake of my education and health have motivated me to succeed in school and to embrace my disability as a testament to my resilience. And though she may no longer walk beside me, I know my mother will forever be there for me as I look forward to whatever comes next in my life.
      Joieful Connections Scholarship
      Winner
      In a world where everyone competes to be the best of the best, the top 1%, I have always strived to be average, to be part of the other 99%. But with a prominent hunchback and braces strapped to my legs, my ambition is quite ironic. Cerebral palsy has made my life anything but average. From navigating insecurities about my disability to overcoming learning difficulties, my personal and educational journeys have been marked with adversity. Standing out requires minimal effort on my part. Growing up, I was constantly asked “Why do you walk that way?” to which my autopilot response was always “I was born this way” before forming an escape plan to avoid further questions. Teachers would learn my name through monthly doctor’s notes excusing my absences as I had to make the four-hour car trips to Shriners Children’s Hospital for new braces and muscle relaxants. Cerebral palsy made me far from the average classmate, but I was still fortunate to have a mild form of it. Yet, in a society that often measures disability by its visibility, I have fought with the insecurity of not being “disabled” enough for my struggles to be validated. While I am not in a wheelchair or fully mentally handicapped, abilities that others have taken for granted require extra effort on my part. Similarly, my educational journey has been motivated by the desire to be average despite my challenges with cerebral palsy. As an advanced student, I have always excelled in my studies, continuously surpassing expectations from my parents and teachers. However, I have always had to work harder compared to my classmates to grasp the same material. The dissonance between my intellectual capabilities and my cognitive impairments often left me frustrated, but ignited a determination to bridge the gap between potential and reality. This has led me to outside opportunities to narrow the gap of support and resources for medically disabled people. I have worked with ESE children at my local church as a pre-k assistant and provided support to the patients and dedicated medical staff at Delray Medical Center. Cerebral palsy has been most vital in fostering my passions in genetics and medicine. I have had the opportunity to witness not only the intelligence and compassion of the medical profession, but also the strength and gratitude of patients and their families. This has led me on a life-long mission to advocate against the negative misinformation of the medical industry and restore the humanization of the people working behind it. As a high school senior at the College Academy at Broward College, I have undertaken rigorous courses that will allow me to graduate with my Associates of Arts with my high school diploma. Most recently, I have been admitted into the University of South Florida’s Biomedical Sciences program as a Presidential Scholar. After earning my bachelor's, I will decide my commitment to either genetics or pharmacy. But regardless of my choice, I intend to participate in research into advancements in biotechnology for under-represented medical disabilities. I am excited to begin this new part of my life and it would not have been possible without the resilience that my disability has instilled in me, along with the constant support from my family, doctors, and teachers. They have given me the mental strength to overcome my physical weakness and receiving the Joieful Connections Scholarship would allow me to show my appreciation towards those people and to carry on their legacies of love and acceptance to the future generations of people like me. Thank you for your consideration.