Monday, September 29, 2008

UCB Scholarship Program Awards $300,000 to Students Living with Crohn's Disease

PRNewswire/ -- UCB today announced the winners of its third annual UCB Crohn's Scholarship program, which this year awarded a total of $300,000 in scholarships to 31 students diagnosed with Crohn's disease. The scholarship program was established to recognize individuals of all ages who demonstrate remarkable academic ambition and a passion to reach beyond the boundaries of their condition. This year there were 31 scholarship recipients, selected by a team of gastroenterologists from leading institutions across the country.

For people living with Crohn's disease, continuing education can be one of life's most difficult challenges. Due to the nature of the disease, which includes sudden flare ups and difficult symptoms, people with Crohn's often feel isolated and limited in what they can do. "The UCB Crohn's Scholarship program encourages individuals, who have risen above the stigmas attached to Crohn's disease, to continue pursuing their life long dreams and inspire others to feel confident in managing their own condition," said Dr. Marla Dubinsky, Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and co-chair of the scholarship selection committee.

To date, the UCB Crohn's Scholarship Program has granted $720,000 in scholarships to people with Crohn's seeking higher education. This year's 31 winners were selected from a pool of more than 1,100 applicants from across the country and received one-time scholarships of up to $10,000 to help pursue their academic dreams. The 2008 winners represent 48 states and range in age from 18 to 52. All of the winners will be honored at an awards dinner on Saturday, October 4th, in Orlando, Florida.

James Lewis, 20, of Columbia, South Carolina was among the 31 scholarship winners. Now a sophomore at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, James was diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a freshman in high school. Although he has suffered a number of flare-ups since enrolling at The Citadel, James has managed to flourish within the school's rigid disciplinary system and intense military training regimen. In addition to being a member of the school's tennis team, James achieved Dean's List status his first semester, and the even higher honor of Gold Stars his second semester. In a school with an average dropout rate of 15 percent, James wrote in his application essay that although completing the first year of The Citadel would be a huge accomplishment for any college freshman, "managing Crohn's disease to accomplish this feat is what makes me most proud."

Tocombamaria Murphy, 34, of Shaker Heights, Ohio wrote in her personal statement, "Crohn's has become part of my life without my consent or foreknowledge; a boundary that sometimes causes me to pause, yet one that I will never allow to stop me." Years ago, Tocombamaria had put her dream of becoming a physician on hold to focus on raising her three children, ages 15, 8 and 6. Diagnosed with CD four years ago, Tocombamaria continues to battle the disease today, while working full time as an Immunization Outreach Worker. With the help of the scholarship, she hopes to become a certified nurse practitioner, to set the example for her children that it is possible to reach your goals, no matter how far off and no matter what the boundary may be.

"Each year, UCB is honored to recognize exceptional individuals who are an inspiration to everyone battling this disease," said David Robinson, Vice President and General Manager, Inflammation Business Unit, UCB. "All of this year's applicants showed perseverance in reaching beyond the boundaries of Crohn's and exemplified true determination, despite the many challenges. They are all extraordinary people, who will no doubt make their goals a reality."

Since the creation of the scholarship program in 2006, UCB has awarded scholarships to 74 outstanding individuals seeking higher education while living with Crohn's disease. UCB launched the scholarship pilot program in 2006 and awarded 12 recipients scholarships of up to $10,000 each. Beginning in 2007, UCB expanded the program and provided students with scholarships of up to $10,000 each to total $300,000. Select winner biographies and photographs can be found at www.CrohnsAndMe.com, an interactive Web site designed to connect people living with Crohn's disease and their supporters and empower them to live fully and be proactive in their care.

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