Surviving cancer is a big challenge, but the challenges don’t stop. Right now, seven childhood cancer survivors from Florida, New Jersey, and New York are preparing for a new challenge: college. In an effort to #BeThere for them, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 recipients of its cancer survivor scholarships, awarded as an inspiration to survivors in order that they may achieve their full potential in life. These seven young men and women were selected based on leadership ability, academic record, moral character, and financial need. Each will receive $1,500, renewable for up to an accumulative $6,000 over four years.
“For twenty years, The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation has worked tirelessly to BE THERE for families tackling childhood cancer and these scholarships continue that positive mission,” said Tom Coughlin, Founder of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. “I’m so proud of the young men and women who were selected from a competitive group of applicants, and I congratulate them on their achievements. These future college graduates have already proven that they’re tough, and now we are honored to BE THERE for them as they chase their dreams and achieve their academic goals.”
CDR Rick Murray Memorial Scholarship Recipient
Marissa Ierna was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma in May 2012 – just a few weeks before graduating from Atlantic Coast High School with a 3.98 GPA. Besides undergoing treatment and attending school at the University of North Florida, Ierna has become a passionate spokesperson for others going through the cancer journey. She currently serves as a Nemours Ambassador and spokesperson, and is a member of the Wolfson Dream Coat Society. Ierna is also a board member for Live for Today and this past year became a Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Go Gold Ambassador. She was also recently recognized as a 2014 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. Ierna plans to transfer to Florida State University this fall and study Communication and Public Relations. She said in her personal essay, “I could not believe where my journey had led me and I was impressed that, instead of giving in, I had decided to take control of my life and give my diagnosis a bigger purpose and meaning.”
Lindsey Mapp was diagnosed with Unilateral Retinoblastoma in May 1997 at 10 months old. Her entire eye was removed and replaced with a prosthetic. Despite this disability, Mapp has worked to achieve her goals and graduated from Camden County High School with a 3.8 GPA. In December 2015, she was chosen by the guidance department as Student of the Month. This fall Mapp will be attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where she plans to study Business Management. She also plans to continue barrel racing (her sport of choice), become a trainer and start an outreach program to provide equine-assisted therapy services to those struggling with disabilities. Mapp said, “I’m determined to not let barriers stand in my way. I set my goals and I achieve them. I will never surrender but above all else, I will never quit.”
Peter Bernard was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2000 when he was three years old. Bernard is a senior at Waldwick High School in Waldwick, NJ where he plays on the varsity lacrosse team and the varsity football team. Bernard will be attending Stockton University in the fall where he plans to major in criminal justice. Bernard wrote in his essay, “I certainly do not want to think of all the negatives associated with the diagnoses and the treatment. What makes me different now is the attitude I have developed and how I approach each and every day.”
Steven Brown was diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in May 2014. He is a 2014 graduate of Caldwell High School in Caldwell, NJ where he was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated in the top twenty percent of his class. Brown will be attending the University of Michigan where he plans to study biology. He noted in his essay, “Despite all things cancer has taken away from me, the disease, believe it or not, has provided me far more than what it has stolen.” Brown plans to pursue a career in oncology.
Daniel Poidomani was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Leukemia in January 2007. Poidomani is a 2015 graduate of Hackensack High School in Hackensack, NY where he graduated with a 4.0 GPA and led the varsity baseball team as its captain. Poidomani will attend Manhattan College in the fall where he plans to study engineering and play baseball. Poidomani stated in his personal essay, “Being able to beat cancer, and survive, instilled in me the ideal of never giving up, no matter what the circumstances.”
Sangay Sherpa was diagnosed with a Stage IV Wilms Tumor in 1999 and Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2000. Sherpa is a 2015 graduate of Secaucus High School in Secaucus, NJ. At Secaucus High School, Sherpa was on the honor roll from ninth to twelfth grade. He will enter Rutgers University in the fall where he plans to study biology. Sherpa shared in his personal essay, “I was a nightmare turned miracle. All I ever wanted was to be normal. But what was normal? We are all imperfect beings. So I learned to accept my painful past as a gift. I was given a chance to live, and I want to make my life successful.”
Samantha Sproviero was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia in December 2011. Sproviero is a 2013 graduate of Hasbrouck High School in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ where she graduated with a 4.2 GPA. This fall she will begin her Junior year at Ramapo College where she will continue studying history and literature. At Ramapo, Sproviero has made the Dean’s list for three semesters and is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society. Sproviero noted in her essay, “Even when I was ill, school was a major priority for me – after missing months of high school I realized what a privilege it was to receive an education and what a valuable role it played in my life.”