I may not suffer from epilepsy myself, but I know all too well the day-to-day struggles that accompany this disorder. When my younger brother, Brady, was first born, he was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder (a condition that results in low energy levels), as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. This combination of disorders causes him to experience seizures daily, to be fed through a G-tube in his stomach, and to rely on my family for everyday functions, such as going to the bathroom or taking a shower. I try to assist in any way I can, whether it be providing an extra pair of hands to help change diapers or making Brady’s elaborate formula for lunches and dinners while my mom distributes the abundance of medications. Dealing with epilepsy has become a part of my family’s everyday routine and we try to minimize the impacts as best we can.
While it is not an ideal situation, my brother’s condition has sparked a passion and curiosity that has driven me to pursue a career in the field of biomedical research. In high school, I have managed to take several Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses centered around the biomedical field. These classes taught me skills that will become useful in a lab setting, such as completing gel electrophoresis for comparing DNA samples or examining karyotypes for genetic disorders.
In addition to my academic work, I currently serve as the Projects Chair for my school’s HOSA club, an organization for students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. In this position, I coordinate various activities for members to become involved in, whether it be fundraising walks or listening to guest speakers. The past several years I helped volunteer at the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Walk in Charlotte and participated in support of my brother. The summer before my junior year I attended a 9-day program in Washington, DC, known as the National Student Leadership Conference, after being nominated by one of my teachers. This program allowed me to visit prominent facilities such as the National Institute of Health, take part in labs on a daily basis, and learn more about what all the Biomed field has to offer, furthering my interest in science and research.
In the future, I hope to one day work in a state-of-the-art lab where I can study diseases and disorders, including epilepsy, with the intention of finding a cure. I hope that I will have the ability to assist individuals, so they do not have to endure what my brother and so many others have to go through each day. The CURE Scholarship will allow me to go to college and work hard so that I can one day make a difference in someone’s life like so many have done for my family and me.