I am a second year volunteer reviewer for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Scholarship Program. The Society’s scholarship program helps highly qualified students who have been diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS achieve their dreams of going to college. Applicants who will be attending an accredited post-secondary school for the first time are eligible to apply. Past recipients of an award are also eligible to reapply for an opportunity to renew their award. My volunteer support helps to ensure equal opportunity for Scholarship awards to be awarded to the most meritorious students impacted by MS regardless of where they live.
I am one of many volunteers throughout the United States who have 20 applications to score and recommend. We work in groups of 4-6 volunteers. I feel very honored that I have been chosen to be part of this group. I’ve spent most of today going over the 20 applications for the first time. I have scored them, however, I will go back through them and make sure that the score is appropriate.
It’s quite inspiring to read the stories and hear about how MS has affected their lives. Some help their parents with injections, others take on household chores previously done by their parents, some help in the family business, some have generations of MS in their family, and all are affected in one way or another by having a parent with multiple sclerosis.
They are all good students and have either work, sports, drama or caregiving responsibilities after school. Some stand out as top recommendations to receive the scholarship. Others do not, however, they’re all deserving! We score in the categories of academics, financial need, volunteer/extracurricular activities, references from teachers or supervisors and personal statements which encompass special circumstances, goals and aspirations, and a personal impact statement.
My top choice lives in New Jersey. She is a senior in high school and her cumulative GPA is 4.149. Her desire is to go to New York University in the Tisch School of Arts and major in musical theater. She has several years experience in an acappella group, performing arts, dance company, and as a teachers assistant at a school of dance.
Her father was recently committed to a rehabilitation facility the day after she turned 16. As he was the primary breadwinner of the family, her mother, sister and she took on extra jobs to help with the family finances. She states that her father needs regular maintenance throughout the day. And even getting out of bed is a challenge.
She used to worry about her dad stand up at her wedding. Now she’s concerned whether he’ll be there at all. Through all of this she has learned to be more self-sufficient in order to be helpful around the house. She also states that the situation has created a tremendous scope of experience and knowledge that she will be able to use for the rest of her life. She believes that the good, bad, ugly parts of life will make her a better artist.
She says “Illness? Financial issues? Depression? I’ve been there, I felt that, and continue to, but the fact that I can say that to someone else and form a bond with them because of it makes it worthwhile.”
A great inspiration for all of us!