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Claire Engler

4245

Bold Points

3x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

2x

Winner

Bio

I have been volunteering at my local fire station for the last year and a half, and in that time, I have become a certified firefighter and EMT. I knew I wanted to go into the medical field before, but this experience solidified my desire to make immediate impacts in lives through emergency medicine. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I have spent years learning the complexities and difficulties of having a disability. I spent years frustrated at my body's inability to work properly until I realized that it worked exactly right to make me who I am. I want to show other kids who struggle with diagnoses and feeling different that, with the right attitude and support, a so-called 'disability' can be a superpower.

Education

St Olaf College

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Medicine
    • Music

Albemarle High

High School
2019 - 2023

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Biological and Physical Sciences
    • Music
    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences
  • Planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Medicine

    • Dream career goals:

      I want to be a surgeon

    • Counseler

      Camp Holiday Trails
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Lifeguard

      Key West Swim and Tennis Club
      2021 – Present3 years

    Sports

    Swimming

    Club
    2010 – 20199 years

    Soccer

    Club
    2009 – 201910 years

    Rowing

    Varsity
    2019 – 20212 years

    Research

    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering

      Researcher
      2018 – 2019

    Arts

    • St. Olaf Band

      Music
      2023 – Present
    • YOCVA Flute Ensemble

      Music
      2013 – Present
    • Youth Orchestras of Central Virginia

      Music
      2-3 concerts per year
      2012 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      AHS Key Club
      2019 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Albemarle County Fire Rescue — firefighter and EMT
      2021 – Present

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Entrepreneurship

    Valiyah Young Scholarship
    My future career goal of practicing medicine comes from my work as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was only two years old, I have been fortunate to grow up in a community that has supported me. Because I have been blessed by growing up in such a supportive community, diabetes has made me stronger, more confident, and extremely passionate about giving back. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company is not the busiest station, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. Recently, I went on my first call as lead EMT. I was able to make initial patient contact and assure the patient that we would take excellent care of her while we assessed her injuries and gathered information for her paramedics and doctors. When we finished the call I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal - to make a positive impact in our community by helping others. In my Fire class, I learned how to work with other first responders as a team, taking the lead and following the lead of others. Just as my success in managing diabetes would not be possible without the support of those around me, success in responding to an emergency situation is reliant on fellow first responders supporting each other. Because of this class, I have gained confidence in myself, my ability to step back and accept feedback, and my ability to push forward and provide feedback. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my own health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is in my future. However, despite the incredible support I have been blessed with, I am scared to be on my own. I know that I will always have my family and friends, but I also know that this world is not kind to people with disabilities. I know the stories of countless diabetics who have been left stranded once off of their parent’s health insurance, and I know that if I want to be a doctor, I can’t afford to let my diabetes slip even a little. I know how easily it is for an A1c to get high enough that nerve damage and blindness creep in before you even notice something is wrong. This scholarship will help lift the burden of paying for my health, undergraduate education, and medical school and will assist me in staying sharp so that I can continue to practice medicine and save lives. It will also allow me to focus on my studies so that I can continue to be a lifelong learner and positively impact the lives of my patients and their families by providing care on their worst days, my fellow doctors by sharing knowledge and positivity, and my community at large by being a force for good in a world that often seems to be fighting against us.
    North Star Dreamers Memorial Scholarship
    My future career goal of practicing medicine comes from my work as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was only two years old, I have been fortunate to grow up in a community that has supported me. Because I have been blessed by growing up in such a supportive community, diabetes has made me stronger, more confident, and extremely passionate about giving back. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company is not the busiest station, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. Recently, I went on my first call as lead EMT. I was able to make initial patient contact and assure the patient that we would take excellent care of her while we assessed her injuries and gathered information for her paramedics and doctors. When we finished the call I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal - to make a positive impact in our community by helping others. In my Fire class, I learned how to work with other first responders as a team, taking the lead and following the lead of others. Just as my success in managing diabetes would not be possible without the support of those around me, success in responding to an emergency situation is reliant on fellow first responders supporting each other. Because of this class, I have gained confidence in myself, my ability to step back and accept feedback, and my ability to push forward and provide feedback. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my own health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is in my future. However, despite the incredible support I have been blessed with, I am scared to be on my own. I know that I will always have my family and friends, but I also know that this world is not kind to people with disabilities. I know the stories of countless diabetics who have been left stranded once off of their parent’s health insurance, and I know that if I want to be a doctor, I can’t afford to let my diabetes slip even a little. I know how easily it is for an A1c to get high enough that nerve damage and blindness creep in before you even notice something is wrong. This scholarship will help lift the burden of paying for my health, undergraduate education, and medical school and will assist me in staying sharp so that I can continue to practice medicine and save lives. It will also allow me to focus on my studies so that I can continue to be a lifelong learner and positively impact the lives of my patients and their families by providing care on their worst days, my fellow doctors by sharing knowledge and positivity, and my community at large by being a force for good in a world that often seems to be fighting against us.
    Maverick Grill and Saloon Scholarship
    I have been supported by my community for longer than I can remember. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was two years old, and with the help of not only my parents and doctors, but my neighbors, teachers, coaches, friends and their parents, I have never felt excluded or unsafe. Because I have been blessed by growing up in such a supportive community, diabetes has made me stronger, more confident, and more passionate about giving back. Although in my fifteen years of being a Type 1 Diabetic I have never needed an ambulance, I have witnessed a friend have a seizure, and I have lost a friend in a terrible car accident. How is it that I have been so fortunate when others have not? I do not know the answer, but I do know that I want to be able to help others in their time of need. Perhaps that is why I first became interested in becoming first aid and CPR certified. From there, my passion for emergency response escalated. I learned in that certification class that I could begin volunteering at the fire station at age 16. I counted down the days. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company may not be the busiest station, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. I have experienced both the exhilaration of helping someone who is hurting and the feeling of helplessness when leaving the scene after not being able to do anything but be present. In all situations, I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal – to make a positive impact in our community by helping others. In my Fire class, I was one of the youngest students, and after training intensely for months, I led my peers during our final burn scenario. In this class, I learned how to work with other first responders as a team, taking the lead and following the lead of others. Just as my success in managing diabetes would not be possible without the support of those around me, success in responding to an emergency situation is reliant on fellow first responders supporting each other. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my own health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is how I will continue to make a difference in my community and the world.
    Analtha Parr Pell Memorial Scholarship
    When you google the name Dana Lewis, you get a Law and Order fandom page, a TV host’s Twitter page, a 1960s basketball player, an attorney, and a ‘thinker’ with a purpose. That self-proclaimed ‘thinker’ changed my life with stubbornness and a hashtag. When I first saw the #WeAreNotWaiting tag on a diabetes page in seventh grade, I was curious but did not think much of it. It wasn’t until it popped up again next to #DIYPS that I began to look into what this was. After finding out that Lewis had discovered a way to create a closed-loop artificial pancreas using an outdated insulin pump and basic hardware, I was in. Within a month, I downloaded the open-source code onto my new Intel Edison and come up with a science fair project to test the effectiveness of the system against previous diabetes setups. I reached out to my Type 1 community, and they answered with data to formulate a conclusion large enough to back up my own experiment. Over the next months, I studied my blood glucose levels and my A1c to conclude that Lewis’ system greatly improved the quality of life and blood glucose control for patients as compared to the current diabetes management systems. Dana Lewis gave me a way to put my growing passion for engineering and my desire to improve the quality of life for Type 1 Diabetics into a manageable system. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic for fifteen and a half years, and in that time, I have seen diabetes management go from ten fingerpricks a day to a reliable closed-loop system that autocorrects your blood sugar. While a serious issue remains in that many Type 1 Diabetics cannot afford the basic supplies necessary for survival, the innovations surrounding open-source technology combined with medical companies show promise for a world with a cure for the condition and many other diagnoses that threaten lives. Lewis and the open-source community’s innovation not only improved my diabetes management, but it also gave me a renewed passion for problem-solving and research. Because of Dana Lewis, I began looking into healthcare careers and how I could get involved while in high school. In 2021, I began my journey by becoming a volunteer at my local fire station. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company is not particularly busy, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. I have experienced both the exhilaration of helping someone and the feeling of helplessness after not being able to do anything but be present. I have responded in the middle of the night to a fire which turned out to be a false alarm - and felt inward anguish when I realized I was disappointed not to have an opportunity to assist in putting out a “real” fire when I should have been elated that no person or property was harmed. In all situations, I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is in my future.
    Walking In Authority International Ministry Scholarship
    I have been supported by my community for longer than I can remember. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was two years old, and with the help of not only my parents and doctors, but my neighbors, teachers, coaches, friends and their parents, I have never felt excluded or unsafe. Because I have been blessed by growing up in such a supportive community, diabetes has made me stronger, more confident, and more passionate about giving back. Although in my fifteen years of being a Type 1 Diabetic I have never needed an ambulance, I have witnessed a friend have a seizure, and I have lost a friend in a terrible car accident. How is it that I have been so fortunate when others have not? I do not know the answer, but I do know that I want to be able to help others in their time of need. Perhaps that is why I first became interested in becoming first aid and CPR certified. From there, my passion for emergency response escalated. I learned in that certification class that I could begin volunteering at the fire station at age 16. I counted down the days. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company may not be the busiest station, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. I have experienced both the exhilaration of helping someone who is hurting and the feeling of helplessness when leaving the scene after not being able to do anything but be present. In all situations, I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal – to make a positive impact in our community by helping others. In my Fire class, I was one of the youngest students, and after training intensely for months, I led my peers during our final burn scenario. In this class, I learned how to work with other first responders as a team, taking the lead and following the lead of others. Just as my success in managing diabetes would not be possible without the support of those around me, success in responding to an emergency situation is reliant on fellow first responders supporting each other. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my own health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is how I will continue to make a difference in my community and the world.
    Desiree Jeana Wapples Scholarship for Young Women
    When I was two years old, my mother noticed I was getting up at night, turning on the faucet and guzzling water. I was cranky and losing my baby fat. My pediatrician’s office said it was a phase. Luckily my mom insisted on an appointment. My blood sugar was too high to register, and I was rushed to the hospital where my family began to learn what it meant to have Type 1 Diabetes. The learning curve was steep, but I quickly learned to care for my condition. In the summers I began attending Camp Holiday Trails, a camp for kids with medical needs and learned to always challenge myself. When I was in 7th grade, I read about the #WeAreNotWaiting Diabetes DIY Movement and thought an artificial pancreas system was incredible and would improve my life. Dana Lewis, the creator of this system and movement, has inspired me as a female engineer and diabetic, pushing past boundaries and walls put in her way because of who she is. Implementing the system to care for my own diabetes showed me a love for problem-solving and opened my eyes to the possibilities that open-source software has in healthcare – an initiative I hope to continue to be a part of not just for diabetes. Largely because of Dana Lewis and her system, I enrolled in an accelerated math and science program at a local high school that allowed me not only to take accelerated classes but also to spend time every day engineering. While I plan to be a doctor, not an engineer, this program and these classes have taught me crucial skills such as looking at the whole picture and collaborating with peers when solving a problem. Recently I have fulfilled a dream of becoming a volunteer firefighter and EMT. I have had to work harder than others because of my gender, age, and diabetes, but the skills I have learned through this process have shown me my true passions. While the station I volunteer at is not especially busy, I have responded to several calls and spent hours each week training, and I am now confident that I want to work in the healthcare system. I believe that I will be able to provide unique and crucial perspectives toward patient care due to the years I have spent as a patient having to advocate for myself. This summer I will return to Camp Holiday Trails as a full-time counselor before starting college, and I am determined to be a positive role model and to show my campers that, with the right attitude and support, a so-called 'disability' can be a superpower. Even though I have a long journey before I am a doctor and will be able to contribute to patient care on a larger scale, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead of me.
    Amelia Michelle Sanford LGBTQIA+ Memorial Scholarship
    When I was in sixth grade, my math teacher accidentally made a gay joke. He stopped himself before finishing the punch line, but everyone knew that he had just called an eleven-year-old kid ‘not straight.’ Of course, this was hilarious to every kid in the class and was laughed off as joking banter between the class clown and playful teacher. However, while I knew the words filling the empty space before the laughter, I did not know that ‘straight’ referred to anything other than classic geometrical linearity. My friends laughed it off when I asked them to explain the insinuation, and eventually I grew tired of asking what ‘straight’ meant. That evening, I spent hours researching, and while I ended with a million more questions, I knew one thing for sure; I was not straight. From there, I decided to not go further. While I knew that I liked girls in the same way most of my friends seemed to like boys, I also knew that I wasn’t ready to date, nor would I be ready to date for a while. However, even though we were young, it became quickly obvious that I was different. I was lucky enough to have a teacher who took students to see Shakespeare plays, and while other girls picked out dresses and would try their best to do makeup, I would spend the bus rides picking out the best tie to go with a messily put together suit from my dad’s closet. I wasn’t out yet, but I still refused to fall in line with what my parents thought an eleven-year-old girl should be doing. When I began high school, I got a boyfriend, and he was sweet and kind. He was everything I could have dreamed of, but after a few months, it still didn’t feel right. That’s when I knew that I had to figure out who I was to myself before I could be anything to someone else. My school shut down a month later because of the pandemic, and while it was devastating, I took it as the perfect opportunity for me to grow. I didn’t have to face social pressures and the stress of seeing people every day. I cut and dyed my hair multiple times. I created characters and wrote stories. I became who I believed was the true me. However, once I returned to school, I realized that I had completely pushed everyone away in trying to find myself. I was a completely different person, and while I was proud of my identity as a transgender non-binary person, I had to completely reform all my relationships. Part of that effort was finding my relationship with God, introducing what can sometimes be an added challenge to my life as the queer community and people of faith have a checkered past. I’ve had to defend myself to my parents, who try their best to be supportive but don’t understand who I am and how I choose to express myself. I have run into people who take one look at my short hair and label me. Despite my struggles in finding and expressing myself, I believe that I have been able to grow, and I aspire to continue to be my truest self in the future. My dream is to be a doctor, and I hope that I will be able to provide a perspective toward patient care that is often cast out. I aim to spread respect for individuals and their identities, ultimately helping to create a more equitable healthcare system and world.
    Future Is Female Inc. Scholarship
    When I was seven, feminism meant spending hours in a basement engineering everyday, and when I was nine, it meant following all the guys out of the window of a treehouse (spoiler alert: I broke my ankle). I spent most of my childhood trying to prove myself to others, but when I began to question my own gender identity, my sense of feminism only grew stronger. Now, I define feminism as striving to create a just society by addressing systemic oppression. Currently, I volunteer as an EMT and firefighter at my local fire station, where I work to promote diversity and inclusivity in traditionally male-dominated fields. One moment in particular that has made me think about my part in feminism was when we were hosting a birthday party for a four-year-old child. As a proud transgender, non-binary person, I was conflicted when I overheard kids asking their parents if the ‘girl firefighter’ could show them the trucks. Part of me wanted to tell them that I didn’t identify as a girl, but a greater part of me swelled with pride because I knew that these kids were seeing and identifying a ‘girl’ in a profession dominated by men. I contribute to the feminist movement by advocating for greater diversity and inclusivity in the fire service. I challenge gender stereotypes and promote the idea that anyone can be in a profession such as the fire service, regardless of their gender identity. While most people see me as female, I feel proud knowing that my presence and visibility can help pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive future. I hope to inspire others to challenge gender norms and pursue their passions, regardless of societal expectations. One person who has greatly inspired me in my feminist journey is Dana Lewis, a woman with type 1 diabetes who has revolutionized the field of diabetes management through her advocacy and innovation. Dana is the creator of openAPS, a system that acts as an artificial pancreas. I put together my own artificial pancreas using her model when I was in seventh grade and experienced first-hand the surprise of some people seeing a girl in engineering and science. Dana Lewis has shown me what it means to work in a field dominated by men and gave me the confidence to thrive in the world of first responders. I am committed to contributing to the feminist movement in my community and beyond by promoting diversity and inclusivity in traditionally male-dominated fields, challenging gender stereotypes, and advocating for equal opportunities for all genders. I believe that everyone should have the freedom to pursue their passions and talents without fear of discrimination or prejudice based on their gender identity. I am extremely grateful for the feminist movement and the progress that has been made toward gender inclusivity, but there is still much work to be done. We must continue to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equal opportunities for all genders to ensure that everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. By challenging gender norms, promoting inclusivity and diversity, and advocating for equal opportunities, we can help create a more equitable world. I am grateful for Dana Lewis and the countless others who have paved the way for a more inclusive future, and I am committed to doing my part to make that future a reality.
    Athletics Scholarship
    I have considered myself to be a band kid through and through my whole life. If I could spend my whole day playing music, I probably would. However, as a Type 1 Diabetic, exercise has always been crucial to maintaining a healthy life. When I began high school, I knew that I needed something that would engage me and push me to be my best. Rowing has been that for me. Because of the demands of marching band and the complications of COVID, I was unable to join the team for a second year, but what I learned in that first year has proven invaluable. Before I started rowing, I struggled with maintaining stable blood sugar levels. I was frustrated and exhausted with the idea that someday my disease would take away my ability to do the things I love. However, as I started to train regularly, I noticed a significant improvement in my blood sugar control. This is because rowing is a highly demanding cardiovascular exercise that requires sustained energy and focus, which forces me to pay attention to my body and blood sugar levels. Rowing has helped me understand my body and how to best care for myself long-term. Even without being a member of the team, I have continued to work to maintain the balance that rowing showed me in my own body. I believe that, in this aspect, rowing has saved my life. Another aspect of rowing that has positively impacted my life as a Type 1 Diabetic is the importance of determination. Rowing demands extreme physical and mental effort, and as a type 1 diabetic, I have faced many unique challenges that can make it difficult to stay motivated and committed to my goals. However, rowing has taught me to push through the pain and stay focused on my objectives, even when the going gets tough. During workouts, I often find myself feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. There are times when my blood sugar exhausts me, and the forming blisters on my hands make me want to give up. However, the determination that I have developed through rowing has helped me to overcome these obstacles. I have learned to stay focused on my goals and to persevere through even the most challenging of circumstances. This has helped me push through not only a hard workout, but also mental and physical struggles in life. Rowing has taught me how to create goals that will both push me and allow me to actually reach them. The process of training requires dedication, discipline, and a strong sense of determination, teaching me that nothing worth having comes easy. It has taught me that nothing worth having comes easy, and that success requires consistent effort and a willingness to push through adversity. I have learned to push through pain and fatigue, to stay focused on my goals, and to persevere through even the most challenging of circumstances. I believe that these lessons will continue to serve me well, and I am grateful for the opportunity that rowing has given me to develop these important qualities.
    Chronic Boss Scholarship
    Winner
    When I was two years old, my mother noticed I was getting up at night, turning on the faucet and guzzling water. I was cranky and losing my baby fat. My pediatrician’s office said it was a phase. Luckily my mom insisted on an appointment. My blood sugar was too high to register, and I was rushed to the hospital where my family began to learn what it meant to have Type 1 Diabetes. I am one of the lucky ones. After the initial fumble with my diagnosis, I received prompt treatment from experts at a modern hospital. Within a year, I was on an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. By age four, I was recognizing blood glucose numbers and what treatments were needed. By five, I was counting carbohydrates, and by six years old, I was calculating insulin dosages. In the summers I began attending Camp Holiday Trails, a camp for kids with medical needs, and learned to always challenge myself. At seven, I fell in love with the flute, and, two years later, won a competition to a music camp of my choice. I chose a two-week residential camp hundreds of miles from home and, with much persistence, convinced my parents I could manage my disease on my own. I did, and I returned to the camp for the next four summers. When I was in 7th grade coming up with ideas for a science project, I read about the #WeAreNotWaiting Diabetes DIY Movement and thought an artificial pancreas system would not only make for an awesome project, but it would improve my life. My father was far more skeptical than I, but with his help, I implemented the OpenAPS system. I won 1st place and vastly improved my ability to safely sleep through the night, but even more importantly, the experience opened my eyes to the possibilities that open-source software has in healthcare – an initiative I hope to continue to be a part of not just for diabetes. Meanwhile, around the world, others were dying or becoming permanently brain damaged from symptoms not being recognized until too late, from rationing insulin due to the high cost, or just from a lack of knowledge in properly managing the disease. On my ten-year “diaversary,” I wanted to give back to those less fortunate. I discovered the charity "Life for a Child" and planned a fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars to go towards providing vital diabetes supplies and education to children in developing countries. I created a diabetes awareness video and organized a week-long education effort at my school. I continued my efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by designing and selling homemade continuous glucose monitor patches online and donating the proceeds to the charity. Since then I have fulfilled my dream of becoming a volunteer firefighter and EMT. I must work harder to convince others that I am up to the task, but I have persevered. Last summer, I returned to Camp Holiday Trails as a volunteer and was able to bond with and mentor young children with diabetes and other conditions. I have spent my life learning the complexities and difficulties of having a disability, including years of being frustrated at my body's inability to work properly. But I have since realized that it works exactly right to make me who I am. This summer I will return to camp once again as a full-time counselor, and I am determined to be a positive role model and to show my campers that, with the right attitude and support, a so-called 'disability' can be a superpower.
    Glen E Kaplan Memorial Scholarship
    I was only two years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At the time, I didn't fully understand the implications of my condition. My parents had to learn how to give me insulin injections, test my blood sugar, and count every gram of carbohydrates I ate. It was a time consuming and difficult task for them, but they were determined to keep me healthy and safe. As I grew older, I began to understand more about my condition and the importance of taking care of myself. We moved from injections to an insulin pump. I learned how to estimate carbs, do my own fingersticks, and give myself insulin. It was a lot to handle for a child, but I was determined to manage my diabetes and live a normal life. When I was in second grade, I discovered a new passion - the flute. I was captivated by the beautiful sound of the instrument and I begged my parents to let me take lessons. They agreed, and I quickly fell in love with the instrument. It became an escape for me, a way to forget about my diabetes and just lose myself in the music. As I progressed in my flute lessons, I started to participate in music camps and competitions. This was both exciting and daunting for me, as it meant that I would have to take care of my diabetes myself, without my parents there to help me. But I was determined to not let my diabetes hold me back, and I learned how to manage my health independently. On my tenth year anniversary of having diabetes, I wanted to give back to others who were not as fortunate as me. I discovered a charity called "Life for a Child" which provides vital diabetes care and support to children in developing countries. I knew that this was the perfect way for me to make a positive impact. I planned a fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars to go towards providing life-saving diabetes supplies and education to children who otherwise would not have access to proper care. It was a truly rewarding experience to see the positive impact that my efforts had on the lives of others. As soon as I was old enough I started volunteering at my local fire station, where I had the opportunity to learn about emergency medical services and firefighting. I quickly realized that this was something I was truly passionate about, and I made it my goal to become a fully certified EMT/Firefighter. I set out to accomplish this goal while also maintaining a busy academic schedule and still playing flute. I took classes in firefighting and EMT and worked hard to earn my certifications. I am now a fully certified EMT/Firefighter in my state, able to help my community and make a difference in the lives of others. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I plan to continue this path in college. I am excited to study medicine and use my skills as an EMT/Firefighter to help others and make a positive impact on the world. Overall, my diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes has been a challenging and difficult journey, but it has also been a journey of growth and self-discovery. It has taught me the importance of taking care of oneself and the importance of giving back to others. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities that have come from my diagnosis, and I am excited to continue to make a positive impact on the world.
    Chief Lawrence J. Nemec Jr. Memorial Scholarship
    Winner
    I volunteer as a firefighter and EMT because I am lucky to be here today. I have been supported by my community for longer than I can remember, and I finally have the opportunity to give back. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was two years old. With the help of not only my parents and doctors, but my neighbors, teachers, coaches, friends and their parents, I have never felt excluded or unsafe. Because I have been blessed by growing up in such a supportive community, diabetes has made me stronger, more confident, and more passionate about giving back. Although in my fifteen years of being a Type 1 Diabetic I have never needed an ambulance, I have witnessed a friend have a seizure, and I have lost a friend in a terrible car accident. How is it that I have been so fortunate when others have not? I do not know the answer, but I do know that I want to be able to help others in their time of need. Perhaps that is why I first became interested in becoming first aid and CPR certified. From there, my passion for emergency response escalated. I learned in that certification class that I could begin volunteering at the fire station at age 16. I counted down the days. While Stony Point Volunteer Fire Company is not particularly busy, I have been able to respond to several calls and earn both my Fire 1 and EMT certifications in my first year of volunteering. I have experienced both the exhilaration of helping someone who is hurting and the feeling of helplessness when leaving the scene after not being able to do anything but be present. I have used a chainsaw right after a heavy storm to remove a tree blocking a road - and felt immensely appreciated by the people who could finally get to their destinations. I have responded in the middle of the night to a fire which turned out to be a false alarm - and felt inward anguish when I realized I was disappointed not to have an opportunity to assist in putting out a “real” fire when I should have been elated that no person or property was harmed. In all situations, I returned to my station where I was united with my fellow volunteers, a group from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds who bond like family over a common goal - to make a positive impact in our community by helping others. In my Fire class, I was one of the youngest students, and after training intensely for months, I led my peers during our final burn scenario. In this class, I learned how to work with other first responders as a team, taking the lead and following the lead of others. Just as my success in managing diabetes would not be possible without the support of those around me, success in responding to an emergency is reliant on fellow first responders supporting each other. Because of this class, I have gained confidence in myself, my ability to step back and accept feedback, and my ability to push forward and provide feedback. Through volunteering, I have gained an even greater appreciation for my own health and experiences. I have grown as an individual by serving my community, and the skills and knowledge I have learned extend far beyond fire and EMT training coursework. While there are many ways to make a positive impact, I am certain now that a career in the medical field, combined with volunteering, is in my future.