The diagnosis of a life-threatening illness could be a reason for anyone to give up. However, these tenacious scholarship recipients wouldn't let their diagnoses define them. For many, their wish experience inspired them to take up challenges that they hadn't thought possible. In the coming weeks, these kids will be graduating from Pennsylvania and West Virginia high schools, ready to start a new chapter in their lives and move forward to their dreams in college.
Jillian, a graduating high school senior, was the recipient of the Mylan Best Essay award at the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship Reception earlier this month. Her wish to go to the Walt Disney World® Resort was the perfect getaway for her and her family. Jillian’s wish trip helped to relieve the stress of her detrimental experience and gave her the opportunity to simply enjoy life.
“Almost everyone has an event in their life which profoundly affects the path that they travel. Dependent on the person’s resilience to cope, such an event may have a negative or positive effect. My life-altering event was my childhood battle with cancer. I consciously chose to turn my negative circumstance into a positive experience to become a stronger, more determined and compassionate person,” stated Jillian.
At the age of six, Jillian was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor. Two years later, the cancer was found again in her liver. After undergoing surgeries, intense inpatient chemotherapy and radiation, Jillian feels blessed to call herself a 10-year cancer survivor.
“Having cancer affected me. Although I was quite young when I was ill, as I grew older, I realized and acknowledged that I am a strong, focused survivor. Cancer has defined my career choice and I am prepared to focus my studies on the field of pediatric oncology nursing. I know that this education will allow me to give back on a daily basis and to make a difference in the lives of children that are just like me,” said Jillian.
Like Dr. Kurt R. Weiss, who conquered his battle with bone cancer and went on to become an orthopedic surgeon, Jillian and all of our graduating wish kids are determined to reach their goals and help make the world a better place. We wish all of our wish kids the best of luck in their future endeavors as they graduate from high school. Congratulations!
To see more photos from this year's event, Click here.
See all of our outstanding scholarship recipients in the program guide from our event, click on the window below:
*Photos from the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship Reception, courtesy of Joseph Guzy and Dave Arrigo.