RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Nicole Djamjian, of Ridgefield, has been named to receive a National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 2014 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Djamjian, a graduate of Ridgefield High School, will attend Manhattanville College, in Purchase, N.Y., to pursue a degree in legal studies and psychology.
Inspired by her mother’s own ambition of entering the judicial system, Djamjian has big dreams of becoming a prosecutor or district attorney before landing her ultimate dream job: serving as a law clerk for the Supreme Court.
During her time at Ridgefield High, Djamjian served as president of the Youth To Youth Club and was an active member of the Literary Club. Outside of academia, Djamjian had to go above and beyond to help her own family. When the now 17-year-old Djamjian was only three years old, her father, Ara, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“When I was younger, my father could go outside with my brother and me, playing hockey or basketball,” said Djamjian. “After his disease moved into a progressive form, those types of things became harder and harder to do. Then, when his stress began to exacerbate his MS he began losing his balance and falling. I know it was physically hard for him, but he never gave up trying to be there for us.”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Djamjian’s father, live with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure. In addition to the emotional toll, MS can have a substantial financial impact on a family. The direct and indirect costs of MS, including lost wages — even for those with health insurance — are estimated at more than $70,000 annually per household. This makes funding a college education that much harder.
“I am going to be paying for my college education on my own, so every little bit helps,” said Djamjian. “It is even more exciting knowing that I am getting support from an organization that is also helping my father.”
Djamjian was recognized by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, at its annual Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Reception, which was held at the Country Club of Farmington, Thursday, June 5. She is one of 18 high school graduates receiving a 2014 scholarship from the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Petit family scholarships are made possible through the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund, which specifically supports the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s family programs. The fund was established in July 2007 by the family to honor the memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who had MS, and her daughters Hayley and Michaela, who were active with the chapter in helping to raise funds to support scientific research for a cure.
“I have viewed my experience with my father as a big life lesson,” said Djamjian. “Life might now always go the way you’d like it to, and you will have bad days. But, we can’t keep that from moving forward to a better tomorrow.”
Program Continues To Grow Across the Country
The Society established its scholarship program for students who have MS or a parent living with MS eleven years ago, and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. This year, over $1.1 million in awards was presented to over 700 new and renewal recipients nationwide. Applications are evaluated on financial need, academic record, leadership and volunteer activities, a statement of educational and career goals, and letters of recommendation. Applicants are also asked to provide a personal statement describing the impact MS has had on their life. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 and typically cover one year, although a limited number of awards may exceed this amount.
“For the Djamjian family and the hundreds of thousands diagnosed with MS across the country, there are very few known sources of scholarship assistance specially targeted for these families,” said Lisa Gerrol, Connecticut Chapter president and CEO. “MS shouldn’t stand in the way of an education, and we are hopeful this program will give families some relief.”
Scholarship applications for the 2015 school year will be available online in October. For more information on MS or for additional information on 2014 MS scholarship criteria, please contact the Connecticut Chapter at 860.913.2550 or visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. It is the number one disabling neurological disease in young to middle-aged adults.
About the National MS Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS. Since its founding in 1946, the Society has allocated more than $771 million to MS research projects around the world. We are people who want to do something about MS NOW. Join the Movement®.
Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your healthcare professional and contacting the National MS Society at www.nationalMSsociety.org or 1-800-FIGHT-MS (344-4867).
Join the Movement is a registered trademark of the National MS Society.