Once again the selection committee had a difficult time selecting a scholarship winner from the almost 800 applications we received. In the end, we all agreed our winner was someone who has spent years raising awareness about AEDs, sudden cardiac arrest and heart screenings.
Congratulations to Julia Kawas! Julia is currently a rising 2nd-year student at Virginia Tech University. She is pursuing a B.A. in Physics (on the pre-med track), a B.S. in Clinical Neuroscience, and minors in Chemistry and French, with the goal of attending medical school after completing her undergraduate degree. Ultimately, she hopes to become either a cardiothoracic surgeon or a pediatric surgeon. She is currently working as a Care Partner at her local hospital in order to begin helping others while still in school. She also serves as a peer mentor for her Living Learning Community at Virginia Tech.
Julia’s winning essay is equally as impressive as her schooling ambitions:
“I wish that more people knew that SCA affects roughly 16 people under the age of 18 every day. As I have Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), I have known about SCA since my diagnosis, which occurred during my first year of high school. I was a varsity cross country runner, living a very active lifestyle, so to hear that I wouldn’t be able to continue living in such a manner for risk of going into SCA and dying, shocked me. I hadn’t heard about SCA prior to this, ignorantly believing that SCA and heart attacks were the same type of medical emergency, happening only to those who were older or were in bad shape. I still retained some of the adolescent personal fables which caused me to believe that I was invincible in a way, convincing myself that nothing on the scale of SCA could possibly happen to me or even remotely affect me. My diagnosis brought with it the harsh reality of cardiac conditions and their ties to SCA. I wouldn’t have begun to imagine that SCA affected so many youth.
Since my diagnosis, I have learned to accept that it is a part of my life, choosing to turn it into a positive in my life. I volunteered, along with my family, for a nonprofit organization which conducts free heart screenings for teenagers, EP Save a Life Foundation, before my family moved away from that area of the country. I am now an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech University and recently created a chapter of the nonprofit organization, Saving Hearts Foundation, at Virginia Tech to pursue the same mission as EP Save a Life Foundation. We are going to begin conducting free heart screenings starting in the Fall of 2018 at Virginia Tech in order to educate our campus about SCA and how to conduct hands-only CPR and how to use an AED in case of emergency. We are also hoping to help students detect potential cardiac conditions through a free heart screening process, allowing for the prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in our community, as more students will understand any underlying conditions that may put them more at risk for SCA. We are also partnered with Parent Heart Watch, as we are a part of their Youth Heart Squad, allowing us to communicate with other youth across the country attempting to combat these issues.
I cannot stress how important this issue is to me, as it remains an integral portion of my life. Every day, when I go onto Facebook, I see another notification from Parent Heart Watch talking about how another youth died from SCA. This issue needs to become common knowledge and everyone should know how to combat SCA, with the use of CPR and an AED. Through the Saving Hearts Foundation at Virginia Tech, I am hoping to help kick-start this goal in that area.”
Congratulations again, Julia!
If you are interested in applying for our next round of scholarships, we are now taking applications. Please note the requirements have changed! If you are applying, please read the requirements carefully. Applications will not be considered for award unless the criteria listed are met.