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Cara S

5135

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

Bio

Life in my 20’s was anything but typical. It was scary, but God took care of me. At 20, I was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma - a rare form of cancer. During that time, I had to stay in college at full time status in order to maintain my health insurance. Traveling between Missouri and Texas for cancer treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center, made continuing my education difficult but not impossible. Then, in 2012, I graduated with two AA degrees. After beating cancer, I went to one of my dream schools and graduated with my BS in Human Factors Psychology, (a combination of engineering and psychology). After graduation, I returned back to Missouri to complete the pre-med courses. My hip, (where the cancer was located initially), was giving me significant problems. No one could determine what was wrong. Eventually, God led me back to Houston for answers. I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). It explained why my joints were so hyper-mobile and why my hip was actually coming out of its socket! I ended up needing to have both of my hips replaced. After being on crutches for three years, at 30, I could walk again! God has truly blessed me! Due to my condition, I am currently unable to work and on disability. However, I do not want my disability to keep me from helping others! My experiences with cancer and EDS shaped my new perspective of life. On disability, I’m working toward a BS in Physics. I know firsthand what it is like to have incredible doctors. My long term goal is to be a doctor that can help my patients, just as my doctors have helped me.

Education

Liberty University

Bachelor's degree program
2021 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Physics

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach

Bachelor's degree program
2013 - 2015
  • Majors:
    • Engineering, Other
    • Psychology, Other
  • Minors:
    • Psychology, General
    • Human Biology
    • Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical/Space Engineering

Three Rivers College

Associate's degree program
2010 - 2012
  • Majors:
    • Education, General

Three Rivers College

Associate's degree program
2010 - 2012
  • Majors:
    • Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Physics
    • Medicine
  • Planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Medicine

    • Dream career goals:

      Research/Space Medicine

    • Cashier

      Fred’s, Inc.
      2015 – 20172 years
    • Greeter/Office

      Liberty Tax Service
      2008 – 20091 year
    • Cashier

      Town and Country
      2017 – 2017
    • Health and Beauty Department Head

      Fred’s, Inc.
      2009 – 20123 years
    • Dispatcher

      Ripely County Transit
      2012 – 20131 year

    Sports

    Softball

    Club
    2005 – 20072 years

    Research

    • Human Factors

      Applied Training Science Laboratory at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Literary Reviews, Video Coding, Public Relations
      2013 – 2015

    Arts

    • Music
      Present
    • Photography
      Present
    • Applied Training Science Laboratory

      Design
      Commercials, Informative
      2014 – 2015

    Public services

    • Advocacy

      First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach — Volunteer
      2014 – 2016
    • Volunteering

      Habitat for Humanity — Volunteer
      2015 – 2015
    • Volunteering

      Applied Training Science Laboratory — Public Relations
      2014 – 2015
    • Advocacy

      MD Anderson Cancer Center — Writer
      2014 – 2016
    • Advocacy

      Relay for Life — Speaker
      2012 – 2012

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Bold Deep Thinking Scholarship
    When I became disabled at 26, my perspective of the world changed. With a history of cancer and Ehler's-Danlos Syndrome, life became more complicated. I tried to work and continue attending college. Eventually, my body could no longer handle it. I struggled significantly. Some family members were unsupportive. They believed that I simply did not want to work anymore. Thankfully, with the help of those who respected and valued my quality of life, I was blessed to find the right doctors. Respect is an invaluable trait that is far too scarce in today's world. So many struggle and are unable to receive the assistance they need to get out of the situation they are in. Had I not received help from those who valued and respected my life, I would not be where I am today - in school and able to walk again! As I continue on this path toward achieving my goals, I see many with needs that fall through the cracks of help. Many do not know where to start, understand the processes involved, or have access to necessary resources. Educating people would help with these issues locally and globally. One way to work on this problem would be to establish volunteer programs in schools where students of the same age could learn together about needs in their communities, their country, and globally. Students could continue involvement throughout school, college, and beyond. As the students get older, they would be given more responsibility and opportunities to serve locally and globally. Getting younger students involved early on would teach them about the respect of others' lives. With an opportunity to carry this throughout life, it would be a great way to begin a new cycle of giving back to the world and learning respect along the way.
    Bold Giving Scholarship
    I do not deserve anything. But, God has done nothing but bless me. Throughout my life, people have helped me. I was diagnosed with cancer at 20, and learned a great deal through those experiences. Years later, I had major hip issues that resulted in three hip surgeries, two of which were both hips getting replaced. I have learned that even though I am unable to give back financially at this point in my life, that does not mean I am unable to give back to others at all. I have encountered a number of people dealing with cancer. Some I met when I traveled to Houston, Texas for medical reasons, and others at school, church, or by social media. When a family member encountered cancer, I was able to help her and her family understand the situation and how to handle it - mentally and financially. At school, a fellow student was diagnosed with cancer. A mutual friend put us in contact with one another and she said it helped her handle it. I may not be able to give back with money, but I have had a number of people give to me in the same way when I was going through cancer treatments. I know what it means to have someone to talk to and have advice from one who has already been through it. Cancer is scary, but no one should have to deal with it alone. Giving back means so much for both parties because those negative experiences can still be used for good. Helping others is important to me because I know what it means to be helped. As I was reminded when I was sick, “tough times don’t last but tough people do”. Thankfully, I can now remind others of that very fact.
    Learner Education Women in Mathematics Scholarship
    It was Christmas morning. At 7 years old, I was excited to see what Santa had brought me that year. It was such a surprise to receive both a microscope and telescope with a big red bow in the living room. Since before I could read, a book about the space program was one of my favorites The pictures intrigued me; the design of the Space Shuttle was incredible. I knew as a kid that I wanted to someday be a scientist. After observing microorganisms and our Moon, I knew there was so much more to what one sees every day. In order to reach the goal of being a scientist, I was told to work hard in math and English. Throughout school, I worked hard to make good grades. English had come easily, while mathematics was difficult. I struggled immensely with it throughout school. When I reached my senior year in high school, I decided to not go half a day. Instead, I took an extra math course to help prepare me for college. Once I had reached college, I worked hard in algebra. It still seemed so complex to me at the time. Eventually, it all began making sense. I was even able to help tutor some friends in their math courses. The gained confidence helped me get closer to pursuing an education in STEM. I changed my major from education to biology. Soon after, I got diagnosed with cancer. It was devastating, as I was unable to work toward a career I desired so badly. Sometimes you have to go through one place to get to another. Going from a small town to a big city opened my eyes to a variety of cultures. Being a patient at the top cancer hospital in the nation also taught me so much about quality of patient care. In those experiences, I learned how mathematics is used to deliver the proper radiotherapy dosage, medications, about vital signs, and more. I understood just how important math is to patient well-being and safety. I gained a deeper understanding of mathematics also in one of my hobbies. I have loved astronomy since I was a child. To this day, I simply adore it. Learning about astronomy over the years with my telescopes helped me see just how small we really are. Seeing my own red blood cells through my microscope helped me understand there are so many different parts that make up everything. Between the large and small scaled observations, my understanding of our Universe began to grow. Applying what I had learned from reading about and observing the night sky, helped me to understand how mathematics is used to measure and understand where we live. The distances between our planet and Saturn is a long way. I learned that different units had to be used because those distances were so large. Trigonometry, algebra, and calculus all started to make sense to me in their uses for observing the Universe. From my hobbies to life experiences, I have seen how much mathematical principles have been applied to the world around us. They are used to improve our quality of life, create technologies, and better understand our home. I have had opportunities that taught me about the medical field from the perspective as a patient. Currently, I am working on my BS in Physics. Then, I plan on applying to medical school. Someday, I want to help my patients as I have been helped. Seeing how everything is linked
    Rho Brooks Women in STEM Scholarship
    My heart went into my throat as I attempted to process what he was telling me on the phone. I tried to comprehend it. However, the news was painfully overwhelming. “Synovial Sarcoma,” he said while clearing his throat, “which is a form of cancer. As for treatment, I don’t know that anything really works for this. An amputation may be necessary.” “Oh,” I replied as my world suddenly fell apart. Without much further explanation, he reminded me of my follow up appointment the next day and hung up the phone. That was all. I had cancer. Later, my primary care informed me the tumor spilled during the surgery. That meant that the surrounding tissues in the hip joint where the tumor was located were contaminated. After learning this, I was referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. It felt far from Missouri, but I needed the most experienced specialist given my complex case. After going through a series of tests, it was time for my appointment with world-renowned oncologist, Dr. Lewis. She was far more caring and informative than the surgeon back home. She took her time with me, explained the situation, and informed about that type of cancer. In our discussion I learned there was ongoing research for this cancer, despite its rarity. I was given hope. After she presented my case to a multidisciplinary team, it was determined that radiation treatments and surgery were necessary. The tumor bed was to be removed and followed by reconstruction. While in the hospital, she made sure the staff all did their job precisely to ensure a great recovery. I was beyond blessed to have her as my doctor. I am still here today with no evidence of disease. During my time as her patient over the past 10 years, she has become even more well known. Being a leader in Orthopaedic Oncology, she specializes in limb salvage and sarcoma pelvic surgery. In 2011, the same year I became her patient, she began the Multidisciplinary Pelvic Sarcoma Program. My life was saved as well as so many others due to her work and this very program. To this day, she continues to be highly respected in her field. In 2015, Dr. Lewis was the first woman chair of an orthopaedic department in the University of Texas System. She has contributed to and led professional organizations focused on musculoskeletal tumors, orthopaedic surgery, orthopaedic oncology, as well as many others. In her work, she has focused on improving patient outcomes and safety with specialized treatments. Because of her work, I am alive today and still have my leg. It turned out amputation was not necessary, (as mentioned by the other surgeon). Unfortunately, many other patients are not so fortunate. Many have had a surgeon perform an amputation when limb sparing treatments were a better option. Dr. Lewis has not only worked to improve treatment options, but has also worked to educate surgeons on the topic. This reduces the number of older and less-efficient treatments performed on sarcoma patients. I have seen problems in the medical field that need improvement. I see people that need help. I have felt alone and scared going through the treatments and check-ups. Now, as a survivor, I have been able to help others going through it too. I am working to someday be a doctor and help my patients, just as my doctors have helped me. Without all of their hard work, like that of Dr. Lewis and her contributions, I would not be where I am today. For that, I will always be thankful.
    Caring Chemist Scholarship
    It was the first time since the surgeries that he has seen me walking without crutches. As I walked back to the room, I felt my hip joints glide. After three years of crutches, it was incredible walking in with only a cane. My doctor looked over and smiled as I followed the nurse to the room. She too was impressed. It was quite overwhelming. In 2017, my right hip starting coming out of its socket. Tissues within the joint were pulling apart and the pain was torturous! I had recently returned home to Missouri after graduating with my BS in Human Factors in Florida. When it got even worse, I applied for disability. I felt broken mentally and physically. It was as though a rubber band was stretching out and unable to retain elasticity in my joint. I knew then that medical school would have to wait until I was able to physically handle it. Back in 2011, I had fought cancer. A soft-tissue sarcoma tumor was found in my right hip. Thoughts of reoccurrence ran through my mind. After verifying that was not the case, I was referred from my oncologist at MD Anderson to a surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. This doctor tried to correct the joint. However, a few months later the symptoms of lost elasticity showed again. Then, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, a type of connective tissue disorder. My genetics were telling my connective tissues to be too stretchy! The last option for any chance at improvement was a total hip replacement. Although scared, I was blessed to make it that far and could not give up! After the first hip was replaced, the left hip began acting the same. And so, both of my hips were replaced before I reached 30. Then, last week I saw my doctor again. It was the first time he had seen me without those crutches. Behind our face masks were obvious smiles of excitement! I am thankful for my doctors working so hard in their STEM fields. I am walking proof that STEM fields can help improve life quality in our world. I am eager to continue getting stronger and working toward medical school. Currently, while physically limited, I am studying online for my BS in Physics – an education that will prove beneficial to my goal of becoming a doctor. I would be so thankful to receive this scholarship! I may not be able to do as much as I need for this goal yet, but for now I can keep working on it. I am not certain as to what speciality I will pursue, but I do plan on working eventually in aerospace medicine. There are an incredible number of technologies that come from the aerospace field. One of those are improved artificial medical implants — much like that used within my own body helping me walk! Other beneficial technologies include specialized imaging for tracking cancer cells and viewing them in 3D, pressure garments, improved tests for detecting diseases, and much more! Utilizing those technologies improve the treatment and and quality of life for us all. My goal is to be a part of that field someday. I must not allow my disability to stop me. I want to help others, just as my doctors have helped me. “Thank you so much for working so hard to do so well,” my doctor said as he hugged me at the end of the appointment. “Thank you for the new hips, so that I can,” I replied, ever so grateful.
    Elevate Women in Technology Scholarship
    The past ten years of my life have been rather eventful. In 2011, I was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma - a rare form of cancer. It has been the medical technology applied to my treatment plan that assisted my care team in treating the cancer and keeping it away. I learned so much over this time; I have been known to ask my providers to explain a number of reasons why and how the technologies they use work. I have learned about x-rays, (what they can and cannot show), radiation therapy machines and how they work, CTs and MRIs and what types of tissues they look at, ultrasounds and how they can utilize the physics of the gel to show tissues. Thankfully, my care team’s use of that technology helped to save my life. Unfortunately, in 2017, I became disabled. I tried everything to avoid applying for disability, but nothing was working. I reached a point of realization that I was too sick from the pain to continue working and going to college. I was studying to go to medical school, when suddenly everything had to stop. I was heartbroken. It felt as though my world was shattered. I had recently graduated with my BS in Human Factors Psychology. I was working to finish up a pre-med program with a goal of applying to medical school quite soon. I began experiencing incredible pain in my right hip - the same place where I had previously had a sarcoma. I knew something was wrong, but the CT imaging at the emergency room could not show it. So, I returned to my oncologist in St. Louis and had an MRI, because it looked at different tissues that the CT. It also did not show anything abnormal. At that point, I was becoming increasingly concerned. I was losing my ability to walk and control my hip joint. The instability and pain continued getting worse. From my experiences, I knew that a different type of test would be necessary. So, another provider ordered an arthrogram of my hip joint. It would be focused on the joint and its connective tissues. When the dye was injected, it felt as though my hip separated. It was a tortuously painful experience. During the MRI part of the test, my hip felt as though it was coming out of its socket. It was so painful it was sickening, to say the least. However, what I was feeling and what was being seen on the imaging were not matching up. This is where I learned that although technology can be beneficial, it still takes the right eyes and mindset to see what is on the imaging. I ended up returning to Houston, Texas, where I had my cancer treatments in 2011. It was much further from home. I knew that I needed another opinion on what was going on. My oncologist referred me to a specialized hip surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital after verifying that the cancer had not returned. When the hip surgeon looked at my arthrogram/MRI, he saw that my hip was indeed, coming out of its socket. It was something that had not been documented in medicine. Had it not been for the technology, again, the problem would not have been seen as easily. Unfortunately, my hip had sustained a tremendous amount of damage by the time I was able to find this doctor, so the surgery was not as effective as hoped. My hip, although its tissues were repaired, had started separating once more even though it was all healed. I began experiencing more difficulty walking all over again. That was when I had to go though my first hip replacement. A few months post-op, the other hip began doing the same thing. I ended up having both of my hips totally replaced in my 20’s. But, something else was wrong. It’s highly abnormal for hips to just come out of their sockets. A genetic counselor was next on my list of specialists to see. The genetic counselor determined that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, (EDS). It’s a connective tissue genetic disorder. It explained why my joints are so loose! In seeing this specialist, I had to undergo more new testing. A genetic test found that I carry the chek2 gene and that I am high risk for breast cancer. I now undergo high risk screening which includes breast MRIs, ultrasounds, and mammograms. Then, due to the EDS, I had to have an echocardiogram and a bone density scan. In having these tests, I have had the opportunity to see how they work. I was able to see my own tissues and identify parts that I learned about in the pre-med program. I have been able to apply my knowledge to help my understanding of what the doctors are looking for and how the technology is working to show them that. It has been absolutely fascinating! Going through this all has been a extremely difficult. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean one should give up. In my experiences, I have learned that someday, I’ll be ready to apply for medical school. I know I’ll go back and finish up the few courses needed and continue that process. But for now, I want to do something that will still work toward that goal. I am working on a BS in physics while I get stronger and physically ready to handle in-person courses. I want to increase my understanding of how things work and apply it to my education and experiences as a patient. Ultimately, had the arthrogram not shown the problem and the right doctor to not have seen it, I simply would not be walking. I am truly thankful to be where I am today. I have learned that technology alone cannot diagnose a patient. You need to have the eyes for diagnosis as well. Someday, I wish to use all of this to help my patients, just as my doctors have helped me.
    SkipSchool Scholarship
    Leland Melvin overcame adversity. He may have been unable to go to space due to his disability, but that did not stop him. After 10 years of training, he finally got to go on a mission to space. I too have been knocked down due to disability for a few years now; I don't intend on letting that hold me back because someday I want to be a doctor and help my patients just like my doctors have helped me.