My name is Kasey and I’m a student-athlete at Marco Island Academy in Marco Island, Florida. I am the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, as well as captain of my varsity swim team. I started a peer-tutoring program in standardized testing at my school and every weekday, I tutor students who speak English as a second language. Although I don’t yet know where I’m going to school next year, I’ve been accepted to MIT, Princeton, West Point, Cornell, and Notre Dame. I am planning on studying Biology/Pre-Med. I am applying for this scholarship because although pursuing a career in medicine is my dream, it is unfortunately one of the most expensive routes in terms of education cost.
It has always been my dream to pursue a degree in medicine, and my weekend afternoons spent caring for people who have slowly lost their memories inspired me to delve specifically into palliative care. As I fed those who could not feed themselves, pushed wheelchairs for those who lost the ability to walk, and read to those who no longer could, I realized how vulnerable these people were, and the immense need for more explorative research in areas dedicated to helping our elder generations.
"Through my interactions with these special patients, I realized there is only so much significance to titles bestowed upon me."
- Kasey B.
On my first day of volunteering at the local nursing home, the stench of disinfectant permeated my nose. Breathing through my mouth, I opened peeled wooden doors shadowed by a sign reading, "Advanced Dementia Unit" only to be bombarded with loud shouts of "Gimme a cold beer!" emanating from a man sunk deep into a supportive wheelchair. The supervisor quickly explained how things went — what food to give whom, who's really leaving at 2 p.m. and who is never leaving at all. I went home in a confused frenzy.
As the weeks went by, I was slowly welcomed into the strange world of forgetting. Here, there was no talk of politics or sports. No one noticed if I mispronounced a word. I was received each weekend with renewed vigor, a sense of familiarity that inevitably vanished. Yes, minutes after I left, no one remembered I had been there. But seeing Robert's eyes light up when I gave him apple juice after what seemed like his thousandth request for a "cold beer" or getting a warm hug from Ellen after we finished a puzzle together were rewards enough for me. Many of my peers spent their weekends playing video games or watching television. But I knew that if I wanted to turn my dreams into reality, I needed to get real world experience.
"I want to dedicate my life and career to the belief that just because these people are forgetting, doesn’t mean they should be forgotten."
- Kasey B.
Prior to my experience volunteering, I cherished my accolades. I was so proud of being a National Merit Finalist, an AP Scholar, and a member of Mensa. But through my interactions with these special patients, I realized there is only so much significance to titles bestowed upon me. I gained a valuable perspective that made me realize there was more to the world than petty awards, and that world was open to me as soon as I graduated high school. The key to this world, I learned, was a combination of education and humility.
And indeed, I was humbled by my own impact — from the day I started volunteering to the day before I moved, there were rarely any visitors on the weekends but me — but more so these people’s impact on me. Without learning about the medical and biological intricacies of the plaques and tangles of the brain that cause dementia, I will not be well prepared to reduce its occurrence.
The harsh reality of dementia is neither graceful nor dignified, but perhaps that was why my interactions with these men and women were so unforgettable. I want to dedicate my life and career to the belief that just because these people are forgetting, doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. To turn this belief into reality, I will need a higher education.
- Kasey B.