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Scholarship Finalists 2020

1. Kayla Schnabel

When I think about acts of kindness that have inspired me to become the person I am today, I think about so many, but the one that stands out most to me is when I was working as a certified nursing assistant. As you would believe, the job of a certified nurses aid is both physically and mentally taxing, but can also be very rewarding and inspires you to love and appreciate others. I had this one resident who came into the facility when I first started working there who had a stroke, and was unable to move. He required a Hoyer lift to provide his daily cares. This resident was always determined to be able to become mobile again even though the doctors said he would never walk again.
Every day I would go into this resident’s room and he would always have this smile on his face, offer a compliment to myself, and always ready to try something new. So, for the next few months I watched this resident go from completely immobile to being able to walk with his walker. This resident was the most kind, uplifting person I know, and I am thankful that I was able to provide the care and friendship that he needed to continue every day down his road to recovery.
This resident taught me what it was like to be in the most vulnerable places in life and still be able to greet someone with kindness and a smile. No matter the day I was having he was always able to remind me what kindness means and can do for others. Even with just the simplest smile.
Because of this residents positive aura that he had every day, I was able to slowly change my thinking process and become that positive person towards everyone that I may come into contact with, as I know that even just the simplest of smiles can brighten someone’s day even when they are in the darkest of times, and to me, that is the most important act that I can give to someone else.

2. Alyson Heller

I had been waitressing for about 10 years when I received this inspirational act of kindness from a party of 2. Waitressing was always hard work, with demanding customers and hours on my feet. I did not want to do it, but I had to work while I was pursuing my associate’s degree. I was coming to the end of my required classes for my associate’s degree and was trying to tell myself that once I graduated I would “never have to waitress again”. It was a particularly rough day at the restaurant. We were short staffed, and the adjacent hotel was booked with hungry travel soccer teams as there was a tournament in town. In between drink refills for the large parties, I had been making casual conversation with a very patient older couple about my schooling, and how I was almost done with my first degree. I’m sure they were able to see the exhaustion on my face while I was running back and forth. In the moments they could where I was not preoccupied with the larger parties they congratulated me on my upcoming graduation. They quietly left, and when I returned to the table to grab what I thought was a regular cash tip, I found this note. It read “Best Wishes & Long Success.” It had reminded me that every hard day I had worked, it was about to be worth it. This dollar bill with the uplifting note has been hanging on my bulletin board since that day. I’m working on my bachelor’s degree now on a pre-physician assistant pathway and still turn to this dollar bill when I’m not sure if my hard work will pay off.

3. Sarah Worster

I can still remember the words of the infectious disease physician on call that day, “We have no idea what's wrong with her.” Terrifying words from a doctor, especially for a ten year old girl whose greatest worry was devising a present for her best friend’s birthday only an hour ago. Everything after that moment rushed by faster than I was able to comprehend. I was driven to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where for the next week I would reside in the intensive care unit and infectious disease ward where physicians, specialists and medical students would attempt to figure out the mysterious illness that had taken over my life. I will never forget the kindness of everyone around me: family, friends and strangers; however, one particular person stands out to me as someone who went above and beyond to help me and my family as we endured one of the most terrifying things a family can face. This woman’s name is Ann, and she remains one of my greatest role models to this day. Ann has worked with my mom as a nurse for over a decade and is one of the most caring people I have ever known. She did everything from buying me snacks from the cafeteria to giving thoughtful advice from her experiences as a nurse. My mom was by my side for nearly every second during my time in the hospital, except for a few hours when Ann stayed with me to allow my mom to take a shower and sleep. Ann’s kind actions have inspired me to pursue a career in nursing so that I can one day give people hope in hard times, as she gave me and my mother that week seven years ago. My goal is to make a difference in the lives of people like Ann did for me and countless others. If I could change the circumstances of even just one patient like Ann did for me, that would be the ultimate honor as a nurse.

4. Briana Lopez

During the time of working at Mcdonald’s there were a lot of moments that made me frustrated. Even though I only worked there for 6 months I still had some interesting stories to tell. On this specific day it was a typical Friday night. Which usually meant it was going to be a busy day. My day had started off normal but later on during the day it started to get busy. Since I was the cashier and the first person the customer sees they tend to give their frustration towards me.Until this woman came to the window. I tell her the total, she pays then tells me right after that she would like to pay for the truck behind her. I stood there surprised and I asked her if she was sure and she said “Yes, because I accidentally cutted in front of him and I feel terrible about it.” I was surprised that someone could be that kind to someone else who they never met. She ended up paying for both then the guy behind her came to the window. I told him that the woman in front of him paid for his meal, he was so surprised and happy that he wanted to pay the kindness forward by paying the next car's order. I was even more surprised because he wanted to continue the kindness. Even the next car wanted to do the same which started this chain of kindness. This chain lasted about 8 cars in total. Which was crazy to me because of how many people wanted to continue the kindness. The last car that couldn’t pay it forward felt grateful because she told me that she was struggling with money and barely had enough for herself and her son. That made me realize that one simple act can have an effect on everyone. Seeing the joy on their faces made my night. Just one act of kindness can truly have an effect on people especially because you may never know what that person is going through.

5. David Weiss

When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a doctor, but thought the classes would be too challenging. Things changed when my father needed help. My dad consistently made time for family. My sister and I played games with him and he helped us study. He and my mom played tennis every week and had interesting conversations nearly every day. At work, he stood up for his fellow social workers. Many of his coworkers shared stories about how my dad helped fight for their rights. He often spoke to his bosses on behalf of others who were afraid to speak for themselves. I admire how my dad was giving, but also brave when others needed help. In 2012, my father’s liver was failing and I was told I would be the ideal candidate to help him. After a rigorous screening process, sixty-four percent of my liver was transferred to my dad. When I felt well enough, my mom led me into my dad’s hospital room and said, “You have a special visitor!” A moment later, my mom, dad, sister and I cried together. My dad was released from the hospital and for several weeks his health appeared to be improving. But in his weakened state following surgery, he contracted an infection that his body couldn’t handle. He died two months after the operation. Despite the heartbreak, I am grateful for the extra time we had together. During our hospital recovery, we discussed our favorite memories and looked forward to the future. After leaving the hospital, I visited him at home each week. The surgery gave us hope. Helping my father and watching the doctors do all they could for him reignited my passion to be a physician. The year after surgery, I began taking pre-med classes. I gained acceptance to NYIT College of Medicine in April 2020. The surgery provided time with a man I will always admire and helped inspire me to pursue my dream. I look forward to a lifetime of studying medicine and learning how to help others share more priceless moments with the people they love.

6. Nicole Kuo

Throughout high school, I dedicated my time and effort to my club called Never Ever Give Up. I was president of the club for three years and the club's main goal was to bring happiness to pediatric cancer patients. I believed this philanthropy was important because I knew family members who underwent chemotherapy and developed depression. I wanted to make sure that no one ever had to go through this feeling when fighting against cancer. In response, we hosted multiple fundraiser events each year and donated to non-profit organizations such as the Jessie Rees Foundation. The profits were used to make Joy Jars which were jars filled with toys and sent to pediatric hospitals. As I was transitioning to college, I wanted to look for an organization that matched my values, so I decided to join a sorority. I ended up choosing Delta Gamma Fraternity which gave me the opportunity to volunteer at communities such as the Lighthouse for the Blind. After gaining experience from Never Ever Give Up and Delta Gamma, it has helped me figure out what kind of career path I wanted to choose: nursing.