In 2012, we awarded scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to 22 college-bound students. All are entering their freshman year, this fall, at the college or university of their choice. We congratulate this diverse group of remarkable students and wish them the best in their future academic endeavors.
The following are the 2012 Southern California & Nevada Scholarship recipients:
Cari Logston - National MS Society Top Scholar
Funding provided by the Leonard J. and Martha J. Brutocao Family Scholarship Fund and Teva Neuroscience
Cari has spent her high school years volunteering for outreach services through her church youth group and helping to take care of her mother with progressive MS. Her father works to provide the financial support for the family while her brother has experienced medical complications of his own. Even though her family has faced many hardships, she happily helps wherever she can at home. “I have been blessed to learn the true meaning of patience, diligence, sacrifice and true love.” She will be attending a college near home to continue helping her mother while studying Communications with an emphasis on Electronic Media and one day pursue a career in graphic design.
Funding provided by the Leonard J. and Martha J. Brutocao Family Scholarship Fund
Brianna loves working with children and dancing. She volunteered for four years as both a teaching assistant at a local preschool and as a member of a nonprofit ballet company. IN addition excelled at school and scored extremely well on the SAT’s. Her experiences working with kids, having a father diagnosed with MS before she was born and growing up watching his struggles physically and financially has influenced her college and career choices greatly. She writes, “I have shied away from a materialistic view of life and have learned that the truly important aspects in life are good health, love and support from family and friends, and determination to persevere in the face of adversity.” She will be entering UCLA in the fall and hopes to one day become a developmental psychologist specializing in infant research.
Raemi Thomas's mother was diagnosed with MS when she was very young and they have always embraced all the hardships that followed as a family. Her mother even had them audition together for an MS advertisement campaign where they ended up getting the part. Raemi graduated with a 4.0 GPA and earned many honors such as her school’s African American Achievement Award. She was also the president of multiple clubs and the student representative of Scripps College Academy as they received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards in the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama. She in turn was then accepted into Scripps College where she will study Economics.
Rebecca Torres was diagnosed with MS when she was 15 which forced her to predominately complete her high school career via home study. Missing out on prom and the typical teenager experience has been hard for her. Being diagnosed and accepting the disease has been a challenge as well. She writes, “The most difficult part of MS, for me, isn’t the symptoms at all but what happens because of them- apologizing and being embarrassed for something I have no control of and people claiming it’s all in my head.” Rebecca is a fighter, she has excelled at school and she excels as a person, “I’ve met so many amazing people and have had so many unforgettable experiences throughout these years and I don’t believe any of that would have happened if I had not had my diagnosis. My relationships with my family and friends have become so much stronger. I, personally, have grown so much as a person. Being grateful for what you have and being optimistic for what is to come, is really what it’s about.” She plans on becoming a child physical therapist.
Joshua Epstein's mom’s diagnosis of MS three years ago has put many burdens on his family, both physically and financially. Despite her condition, his mom continually reminds him to not wrongly judge others, she has instilled in him the value of ‘open mind, open heart’ and has always pushed him to go to college. Joshua now plans to study Comparative Religion at UCLA because as he says, “Religions basically espouse spirituality, comfort, and a goal to be the best person you can be. I want to share this unifying message and use it to bring people together.”
Harrison Goldblatt's mother was diagnosed with MS when he was very young which forced his family to adjust to living on one income. Empathetic to his family’s needs Harrison has always done whatever he could to help out. In addition to his familial duties, he is an all-star student and has played on his school’s varsity basketball team all four years. Harrison says his moms’ optimism has been his inspiration to continue to work hard in everything he does and he credits her for teaching him to appreciate the little things in life. He will attend the University of California, Berkeley.
Dominick Adanalian has had a part time job for a few years but now has assumed the full time job as caretaker of his family. His dad was diagnosed with MS when he was young and when his mother passed when he was in third grade, his father’s symptoms worsened and his job become greater. He takes care of his sisters and helps his dad whenever he needs while trying to enjoy life. He plays basketball and was the president of his school’s Armenian Club in his spare time and now he’ll be attending college in the fall so he can support his family one day.
Megan Stough has always considered herself a “Go-Getter.” She has had a job since she was fifteen and continually participated in school activities. After graduating high school and having her son, she started experiencing symptoms that lead to her diagnosis of MS in 2010. Her life slowed down in ways she wasn’t used to and it was hard for her to adjust to her new way of life with MS and a little boy running around. However, now she tries to make the best of things and has decided to attend college in the fall to become a nurse to make a positive impact on people’s lives just as the nurses in her life have positively affected her.
Sean McGough: Despite the fact that Sean’s father has MS and his mother is the sole financial provider, he earned straight A’s while being homeschooled. His family has learned to work as a team he says, “I have learned to ask for help and accept it. I have also learned persistence because my dad has never given up when he’s having a bad day and my mom continues on even when the burden of making everything work gets overwhelming.” He learned how to cook to take some of the stress off his mother and even assumed the role of fixing things around the house. He hopes to one day become a mechanical engineer to help solve problems and make the world a better place for people with disabilities.
Jennifer Miguel was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana but was forced to evacuate by Hurricane Katrina. Her dad stayed in New Orleans after the disaster because of his job but her mother relocated her and her brothers to California to ensure they continued school and to find work as a schoolteacher. The years that followed were rough as the family struggled financially and then in 2007 her mother was diagnosed with MS. She writes, “Every night I count my blessings, because I am truly lucky to have a mother as strong as my own. She is one who never gave up on herself or any of her children, no matter how hard times can be.” Jennifer’s will be attending Clemson University to study nursing.
Alexandra Molen is a busy teen but she isn’t so consumed that she doesn’t notice the struggles her mother goes through with MS. She says her super hero mother is her driving force. She volunteers regularly for the MS Society, Meals on Wheels, her church ministry, Project Linus (where she helps make blankets for hospitalized children) and her local library. She does this all while earning a place on the dean’s list and making time to take her sister to music lessons. Since her mother was diagnosed with MS, she worries about her mom’s future and wants to continue helping people by going into a field of study that might one day reveal some of the unknowns of MS.
Jordan Smothers has a full schedule; he has participated in the California Fire Explorers program, his high school’s associated student body as well as the track & field and cross country teams, where he earned medals in multiple events in the CIF Southern Section Championships two years in a row. Even though he stays busy with his extracurricular activities, he saves time to help his mother who was diagnosed with MS when he was young. He will be attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in the fall and one day hopes to become a pediatrician so he can help children and teens with all different types of illnesses.
Justin Strayer is an all star baseball player and student. Despite his success, he still volunteers whenever he can at homeless kitchens and multiple underprivileged baseball leagues. In his free time, he has a part time job and helps out around the house to ease the burdens of his family because his mother has MS. He says his mother’s honesty and strength inspires him every day. He hopes to study business administration to apply what he has learned from her and start his own business from the ground up or maybe one day become the general manager of a baseball team.
Tanner Rickard's mom was diagnosed with MS when he was in first grade. To make matters worse, he was diagnosed with his own illness and had to grow up fast as both his mother’s conditioned and his family’s financial situation worsened. He helped whenever he could and somehow still found time to participate in Varsity Golf, Junior Statesman of America, and his school’s Wind Ensemble. His extracurricular activities and excellent grades earned him admission to California State University- Long Beach to which he will be commuting from home to continue helping his mother.
Edward Ross “Observing my mom and how she deals with life has taught me some very key personality traits and made me a better person than I would have been otherwise. Watching her deal with her MS has shown me how to make the best out of whatever life hands me instead of feeling sorry for myself or giving up.” Growing up, Edward was encouraged to work hard, he learned that lesson well. He has not only excelled at school, but helping out at home and in baseball as well. Ever since Edward’s mom was diagnosed with MS just days after he was born, she has always been his inspiration and motivation to strive for success in whatever he does. His dream has always been to go to college so he can be even better prepared to succeed in his future.
Ashley Aaland's mother was diagnosed with MS after experiencing complications on an airplane. “The greatest thing that has come from my mother’s diagnosis is bringing my family together to support my mother.” Every year her family and friends help raise money for WalkMS. In addition to her family and community commitments, she has managed to run cross-country for four years and become a scholar athlete. She is now hoping to pursue her dream job of becoming a book editor and even though she is going into a competitive field, her experiences have taught her that working hard and following her heart and passion will lead to success.
Katie Lange step dad was diagnosed with MS when she was in seventh grade. Her family experienced a lot of ups and downs but participating in WalkMS have brought them closer. Her stepdad always managed to coach her softball teams and remains as active as possible in her and her siblings’ lives. “My continuation of softball is a love letter of sorts to my stepdad. MS has changed my outlook on everything and with softball I can exhibit not only my love of the sport, but my love and appreciation for my stepdad and show him how much his efforts in coaching and supporting me have really paid off.” Katie plans to attend Pace University-Pleasantville where she will be playing softball and studying communications in hopes of one day becoming a broadcast journalist for ESPN.
Ian Thomas and his step-dad bonded through sports, specifically basketball. Ian’s stepfather was diagnosed with MS when he was in fourth grade and watching his dad adjust was hard as they could no longer play together as often as they used to. Growing up watching his family struggle to balance the activities of his four siblings and his dad’s disease taught Ian to appreciate the little things and now he knows what he wants to do with his life. Ian is about to enter his first year at Occidental College and wants to combine his passion for basketball and business to start a basketball facility to help teach underprivileged children the game just like his stepfather taught him.
When Michael Kreins isn’t volunteering or helping fundraise for the MS society and Brain Aneurysm Foundation, he is helping out at home. His mother was diagnosed with MS when he was thirteen after she suffered a brain aneurysm, which prompted his and his family’s fundraising efforts. “My mom has taught me that life is going to throw you curveballs, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. You have to keep pushing and not let things keep you from living the life that you want to live. That to me is the most important lesson that anyone could be taught. Positives will always overcome negative. Just as good will always overcome evil.” Michael now plans to attend CSU Fresno in the fall and study criminal law to either become a lawyer or policeman one day.
Brian Price is an above average athlete. He was a gold medalist in the hammer throw at the Junior Olympics Association Meet and competed at the State Games of America. He also ran multiple events for his high school’s track and field team. When he wasn’t training, he was working as a Game Leader with AWANA or going on mission trips to Mexico with his church to help build houses. At home, he works hard to support his single mom who was diagnosed with MS when he was young. Now he attributes his strong work ethic and sense of independence to his mom’s teachings and growing up around MS. He will be attending California State Polytechnic University in the fall and after college hopes to enter the police academy.
Alexander Green is no stranger to MS, his stepmother was diagnosed when he was ten years old and then his stepbrother was also diagnosed in 2010. Alex is the youngest of four siblings so he does all he can to help around the house while trying to balance schoolwork and a part time job. His stepmother and stepbrother are more than just family to him, they are his role models, and he wants to make them proud by graduating from college one day and by helping to fundraise to find a cure for MS. As a family, they participate in WalkMS together every year. He plans to enter San Francisco State University in the fall.
Lauren Whitham's mom was diagnosed with MS before she was born. Growing up with a mom with MS exposed to her all of the sides of the disease. Seeing the need, Lauren seeks to help her mom however she can. Her mom in turn always encourages her to stay busy with activities she enjoys like school work, cheerleading, and volunteering with her church. Lauren is so grateful for her experiences, “If my mom can work hard and do things for other people, what excuse do I have? She makes me want to work harder and has always pushed me to do my best…I thank GOD every day for the chance he has given me to live life to my fullest.” Lauren plans to attend Allan Hancock College.