ENL Announces the Scholarship Winners for 2011-2012
The Zach Rowe Memorial Scholarship, valued at $1000 is awarded to a student with epilepsy who will be continuing on to Post Secondary studies after High School. It honours Zach Rowe, recipient of the ENL scholarship in 2006, who passed away as a result of his seizures in 2009. Because of fundraising efforts of Zach's family and friends, this year we were able to offer Zach Rowe Memorial Scholarships to two very deserving students.
This year's fist recipient is Luke Noftall of St. John's, shown here with Zach's mother Janice. Luke is currently studying at Memorial University with the hopes of focusing on some branch of therapy. Since his epilepsy diagnosis in 2005, it's been a roller coaster ride for Luke and his family; one that included multiple types of seizures, brain surgery, and an outpouring of support from everyone who knew him.
Before my first seizure, I was a good student with a great social life. I was a competative swimmer and played on my school soccer and volleyball teams. [After my diagnosis] my doctor tried many medications over the next few years, but I continued to have seizures and had many side effects from all the medications. I started failing academically, I was forced to give up all my sports, and I lost most of my friends. I became very depressed. In January of 2008 I travelled to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where I underwent epilepsy surgery and had a major brain resection. I had three brain surgeries in five days. After the surgeries, my seizures continued and I spent many months working with therapists, and had to repeat Grade 10. I worked hard and things slowly improved. I am happy to say that I contiinue to improve and am now two and a half years seizure-free.
This year's second recipient of the Zach Rowe Memorial Scholarship is Allison King of Victoria, also shown here with Janice Rowe, Zach's Mother. Allison is attending the College of the North Atlantic in Carbonear, and exploring what field of study she would like to pursue. Allision was diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 12, and says it has had a significant effect on her teen-age years. Like far too many people with Epilepsy, Allison was bullied by others who had no true understanding of what seizures were all about. She also felt restricted in what she could do, and avoided sporting activities as a result of her seizures.
Allison has a personal connection with the Rowe family. At the scholarship presentation ceremony we learned that her brother and Zach were best friends. With Allison being awarded one of the same scholarships that Zach received in 2006, it made the moment even more touching.
In addition to the two Zach Rowe Memorial Scholarships, we also awarded our annual Jim Hierlihy Memorial Scholarship, which is valued at $1000. This honours a mature student with epilepsy who has taken the initiative to return to studies to advance in their present job or train for a new career.
This year's recipient is Mona Earl of St. John's, shown here with ENL President, Ron Stone. Mona is currently studying Geomatics Engineering at College of the North Atlantic with the goal to become a surveyor or hydrographer. Despite being diagnosed with Epilepsy in 1993, Mona is involved in numerous volunteer and charitable activities focusing on construction and re-development, both here at home, as well as in New Orleans.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 13. It was a difficult time for me. I was young and scared. Having a seizure always terrified me. I felt that there was this power inside of me thatI wasn't in control of; that my body could become hijacked at any time and there was nothing I could do about it. I often criend to my mother, asking when it would stop. It took another couple of years for doctor's to find the correct medication for me. I realize that, for me, it's about not allowing any type of 'affliction' to interfere with your life, how I've not only overcome, but also excelled in many of the things I wanted to accomplish for my life, and it's not over!
Epilepsy Newfoundland and Labrador takes great pleasure in extending our sincerest congratulations to Luke, Allison, and Mona. You offer great proof that epilepsy does not have to be a barrier to reaching your goals.