In 2013, 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 2013 Southern California & Nevada Scholarship recipients:
Erin Saito - National MS Society Presidential Scholar
Funding provided by the Southern California and Nevada Chapter and Bimbo Bakeries USA
Despite being diagnosed with MS, Erin continues to live with a positive attitude and says her disease has in fact improved her perspective on life. Erin is the captain of her school’s tennis, basketball, and softball teams, and has won awards including “Most Inspirational Player” and “Athlete of the Year“. After her diagnosis, Erin began to volunteer her time at the National MS Society, and became a team leader for the Santa Barbara WalkMS where she received the award for “Most Inspirational Walker”. She aspires to become a physician, and her goal is to find a cure for MS.
Funding provided by the Joanne Pearlman Gellar Scholarship
Caitlyn was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth which has inspired her to make the most of her life no matter what the circumstances. Since her mother’s diagnosis of MS when Caitlyn was 7 years old, she has played an integral role in caring for her younger brother. Her goal is to work as a Child Life Specialist and therefore she plans on majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. She is the manager of her school’s track team and the co-president of the 4-H Pinenut Rider’s Horse Club in her community.
Since Curtis Neuman's mother was diagnosed with MS, Curtis has taken on many responsibilities, including managing the warehouse of the family business, as well as preparing school lunches and family meals. Watching her daily struggles has inspired him to pursue a career in Legal Advocacy, where he hopes to improve the lives of the disabled by protecting and improving accessibility, transportation, employment and healthcare issues. Curtis also spends his time fundraising for the Free Wheelchair Mission and Walk MS.
Having a mother with MS means Karina Carillo takes on many extra responsibilities including the weekly housework and caring for her two younger siblings. She still finds time to give back to the community in her long list of volunteer positions including volunteering at the hospital, the Youth Center, and being the President of the Make-a-Wish Club. Karina aspires to be a doctor and hopes to be part of finding a cure for diseases such as MS.
Bryan Yglesis plans to major in Business Management and minor in Kinesiology in hopes of running his own Physical Therapy business one day. He was diagnosed with MS in February of 2006 and has embraced his disease as motivation to be strong and have a greater drive toward achieving his goals. Despite the physical limitations, Bryan has continued to participate in school sports including soccer, tennis, and cross-country. He has also become active in student government, and gives back to the community through his school’s Interact Club.
Athanasia Kyriazis, whose mother was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago, holds many roles: caregiver, grocery shopper and chef are just a few. In addition to her familial roles, she serves as the Captain of her varsity basketball team and is a recognized leader in her school and church activities. After volunteering in a pre-school class, she developed a passion for teaching and will be majoring in Business and Education. She believes the challenges she’s faced have ultimately made her a better person and said, “My mother is all I inspire to be, thus she has shaped me into the woman I am today.”
Lauren Rodriguez has taken on many responsibilities at home since her mother’s diagnosis 5 years ago, including picking up her brothers from school, cooking and cleaning. Her mother’s battle with MS has inspired Lauren to help others change and better their lives. She plans on obtaining her bachelor’s in Nutrition and hopes to help people cure diseases through what they eat.
James O'Rourke plans to major in International Relations and Affairs, with an emphasis in Intelligence Analysis. His mother’s diagnosis of MS has added additional responsibilities in the home, however it has not stopped James from actively participating in school sports as well as being a leader in his community. James is a member of the cross country, track and field, and wrestling teams at his school. In 2010, James organized the first MS Service Day in Southern California where he recruited fifty volunteers to offer home services for people in the community suffering from MS.
Jessica Robertson has always had a deep interest in the human body and therefore plans to major in Nursing or Pre-Medicine in college. Her father’s diagnosis, although difficult, has forced her to re-evaluate and appreciate all aspects of life. Jessica participates weekly in community service, and has even planned, organized, and created a youth camp for over 200 young women.
When Sydney Penate was diagnosed with MS last year it did not slow her down and she knows that even with MS she can be anything and do anything she works hard to achieve. Sydney aspires to be a screen writer and director and hopes to live in New York someday to live out her dream. She is already beginning to take the steps toward her goals by participating in her school productions as an actor and director.
Eric Guzman plans on earning a degree in Bio-Engineering and his goal is to create supportive tools and devices for persons with neurological disorders. He feels that having a mother with MS has made him a more patient and tolerant person. Eric stays involved in school activities by participating in student government, as a student tutor, and also as a member of both the JV Basketball and Varsity soccer teams. Eric contributes his time to the community by volunteering at the animal shelter and also as a team leader in Bible School.
Madison Boynton plans to study Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering and aspires toward a career as a research pharmacist. She is a leader of her youth group and participates in both the soccer and cross country teams in her high school. Her mother’s diagnosis has affected her life greatly. She said, “My mother has proved to me the incredible strength present in an individual, unbeatable work ethic and endurance, and great love and selflessness.”
Kayla McKnight has a passion for helping children and plans to join the Peace Corps after obtaining her college degree. She participates in many school activities, including varsity golf and the academic decathlon team. Kayla has been a volunteer for the MS society for the past three years and has especially enjoyed her various roles of planning, setting up, and fundraising at her local Walk MS.
Marissa Ramirez plans to study Film Production and Screenwriting and her dream is to work for Disney Pixar. She is the captain of her cheerleading squad and is also an active participant in the film productions at her high school. Although her father’s diagnosis with MS has been difficult, having him around has made it easier for her to look at life from a new perspective and to always see the good in people.
Liliane Sherwood plans to major in Marketing Communications in college. Having a parent with MS has taught her to be empathetic to others and her mother’s strength inspires her to do her best in all areas of life. Liliane is an integral part of her community and spends her time volunteering for numerous organizations including the Make-a-Wish foundation, PAC club (Preserving Animal Care), and the MS Society.
Jacob Ojalvo's mother being diagnosed with MS has taught him to appreciate every day and live life to the fullest. For Jacob this includes volunteering for the last four years at The Friendship Circle, and as a counselor at a Muscular Dystrophy Camp in Oregon. He is the captain of the Basketball team and the assistant coach of the Freshman/Sophomore team at his school. He plans on majoring in business and is looking toward a career in finance or accounting.
John Sherman believes that anything is possible through hard work and dedication; a philosophy that will guide him in his goal of pursuing a career in engineering. He is the Captain of the varsity soccer team and is on the Honor Roll in his high school. John’s participation as an Eagle Scout has taught him to give back to the community. “My life’s aspiration is to influence the community around me in a positive way.”
Daniel Scharar has a deep interest in Economics and Political Science, he hopes to pursue “a career that provides an outlet to make a difference in either the public or private sector.” When he was nine years old, Daniel’s mother was diagnosed with MS, and he has since experienced an increase in responsibility around the home. He recently became a lifeguard to help supplement the loss of family income due to his mother’s illness. Daniel participates in many school programs including the Future Business Leaders of America, Interact Club, and Varsity Tennis.
Kasie Jones states, “Being an only child with a dad with MS, I have found my strengths, my weaknesses, and what is really valuable in my life.” She has been a great support for her family and performs many household tasks including cleaning, grocery shopping, and even cooking. She knew from an early age that she wanted to work with children and therefore plans to pursue a career in Physiology or elementary education. Kasie volunteers as a mentor to kindergarten children in their classroom.
For Jeremy Allen growing up with a mother who has MS taught him to be strong and never give up in life. Jeremy will major in Sports Psychology in college and hopes to eventually be part of a major sports franchise. He is the captain of his varsity soccer team and hopes to play professional soccer one day.
Daniel Incerpi is actively involved in many school activities, including student government, the Community Outreach Program, working as a counselor in the summer sports camp, and giving the weekly news broadcast. Daniel plans to major in Broadcast Journalism and aspires to be a play-by-play sports broadcaster. Watching his father face the challenges of having MS has deepened Daniel’s admiration for him. About his father Daniel said, "His strength and desire to overcome what can be a devastating disease has instilled in me the value of perseverance."
When Jordan Girard was in the 8th grade, her mother was diagnosed with MS. The diagnosis has forced Jordan to grow up fast as she has accepted many responsibilities around the house including being a positive support for her mother. She is Captain of her varsity softball team and plans to continue her softball career in college. Jordan aspires to major in either Business or Sports Medicine.