Story Category: Press Releases »
Local Students Win Ellen Carol Segal Memorial Scholarship Awards
By National Multiple Sclerosis Society
With the cost of higher education on the rise, many recent Maryland high school graduates and their families are facing difficult decisions about financing a college education. Three local young women have dealt with an added financial strain to consider: each has a parent living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter’s Ellen Carol Segal Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to students from the D.C. metropolitan area, who are affected by MS. Finalists must demonstrate academic performance, leadership and community involvement, work experience, clearly identified goals and aspirations, and financial need. Each of the scholarships recipients receive $3,000 allocated for their first semester of post-secondary education, and some are granted renewals.
The scholarship was started by National Capital Chapter board member Bruce Pearlman in memory of his late wife Ellen, who passed away from complications of MS in 2007. The fund honors Ellen’s deep commitment to education while helping to offset the financial obstacles for families affected by MS. Pearlman pledged $50,000 to be paid over five years, and has since worked diligently to encourage others to support the fund, growing it in both size and duration.
Scholarships have been awarded to Imani Simpkins, Jacqueline Morgan, and Niya Norwood. All three graduated in the top of their class. All three have ambitions that begin with higher education. All three are affected by MS.
Imani Simpkins of Bowie, Maryland, will pursue a degree in elementary education from Spelman College. During her high school career, Simpkins served as student body president and volunteered with Best Buddies, Girl Scouts, and a support group for people living with MS, started by her mother who lives with MS. Imani helps out around the house and holds after-school jobs, even as she maintained a rigorous academic schedule.
Simpkins confidently states that her mother’s diagnosis has had a positive impact on her life, a statement which is often met with confusion and concern. However, it is through her mother’s diagnosis, and shortly after her founding of the MS You Are Not Alone (Y.A.N.A.) self-help group, that Simpkins has learned not only to lead by example but also the magnitude to which she can positively impact the lives of others.
“The way in which my mom has embraced her ‘new life’ with MS gives me the encouragement to know that I, too, can learn to adapt to any given situation,” said Simpkins. “I have learned so much watching my mom give of herself to her family, her self-help group members, and her community. It's this giving spirit that propels me to want to be a teacher.”
Jacqueline Morgan of Waldorf, Maryland will also pursue a career in teaching, attending Pennsylvania State - University Park in the fall. She graduated with recognitions including academic honor roll and a scholar-athlete award. Morgan has been a tutor, involved in her school’s automotive technology program, and has held multiple part-time jobs. Jacqueline’s father lives with MS and requires help from her around the house and getting to doctor’s appointments.
Throughout Morgan’s life, adversity has played a common role. From her parents’ divorce to family legal troubles and finally to her father’s diagnosis with MS, Morgan has faced many struggles that have shaped her into a strong, independent young woman.
“I learned not to feel sorry for myself,” said Morgan. “I also learned how to be a caregiver and to realize that there is someone out there who always has it worse than you. Although I have gone through a rigorous course, I know that the person I am today is because of both the positive and negative experiences; without them I wouldn’t know how to handle certain situations and more importantly to be able to help others who go through rough times.”
Niya Norwood, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland graduated in the top 5% of her class and will continue her studies at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in musical theater. During high school, Niya was on the honor roll, participated in show choir, and served on the student government. She has been in the music ministry at her church and works part-time at an organization for preventing underage drug abuse and smoking. Her mom lives with MS.
MS has always had a presence in Norwood’s life, as her mother was diagnosed before Norwood was born. While she says the experience has made her more caring and independent, Norwood also admits to being fearful for her future, as well as her mother’s.
“Even though I try to stay positive for her sake, I worry that my mother could get to the point where she will not be able to walk or see,” Norwood explains. However, she stays hopeful for a cure. “My mother is the strongest person I know because she has accomplished so much even with her diagnosis. She always encourages me and I want to make her proud. I know my mother has MS, but MS does not have my mother.”
Although Pearlman’s five year pledge will be fulfilled with this year’s recipients, he does not intend to end his support for the National MS Society. Pearlman has agreed to contribute $10,000 for 2013 scholars to continue making his mark against MS.
To donate to the Ellen Carol Segal Memorial Scholarship fund, call (202) 296-5363, option 2 or visit www.MSandYOU.org and enter ‘scholarship’ in the search bar.
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. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with the disease. 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 with MS 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 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives. In 2010 alone, through its national office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society devoted $159 million to programs and services that assisted more than one million people. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested $37 million to support 325 new and ongoing research projects around the world. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at www.MSandYOU.org.
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 health care professional and contacting the National MS Society at www.MSandYOU.orgor (202)296-5363, option 2.
Be The First To Comment On This Story!
Send This Story to a Friend!