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Past Scholarship Winners

scholarship winners


1st Place Winner

Matthew HadfieldMatthew Hadfield

I am currently a third year medical student and aspiring medical oncologist. Prior to medical school I worked as a clinical research coordinator at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. I feel very passionate about mesothelioma advocacy. I have seen first hand the devastating impacts of this disease. I believe awareness regarding exposure risks is integral to limiting the number of people diagnosed each year. The message I would like to give families fighting mesothelioma is that you’re the definition of courage. Never lose hope, you are my inspiration. Read my Essay


2nd Place Winner

Jade GoldenJade Golden

I am currently studying at MCPHS University to become a physician assistant. My mom was diagnosed with mesothelioma when I was a senior in high school and passed away shortly after I graduated college. She inspired me to pursue a career in healthcare. I hope someday to share my knowledge and compassion with patients and their families who are dealing with difficult situations like the one my mom and family went through during her battle with cancer. The message I would like to share with families fighting with mesothelioma is to let them know that the road ahead is tough but stay positive. It is great to be strong, but it is also important to recognize when other family members need support too. Read my Essay


3rd Place Winner

Sara SchmidtSara Schmidt

I’m a first year graduate student at the University of Southern California. My father was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2001 and passed away in 2002. I try to raise awareness about mesothelioma by asking more questions about products and services. I try to inform people about the dangers of asbestos exposure. The message I would like to share with families fighting mesothelioma is to try to forget the “why me” questions and focus on treatment, quality of life and educating people about the disease. Read my essay.


4th Place Winner

Heather JohnsonHeather Johnson

I’m a wife and mom of 4 wonderful children and currently working on my RN. My oldest is also in college. I love to live life to the fullest. My favorite saying that I learned from my Dad is “Living the Dream” when anyone asks how I am doing. When I talk with people about mesothelioma, it amazes me, in my area especially, how many people have not heard of it. The message I would like to give families fighting with mesothelioma is to remember to weigh the quality of life of the one affected against what possible treatments may allow you to extend the time you have with your loved one. Quality of life does not always mean longer. Read my Essay


5th Place

Vasiliki KampasVasiliki Kampas

My name is Vasiliki Kampas, and I am an aspiring social worker. I want to earn my B.A. in social work and then earn a M.A. and Ph.D. My dream is to work with Child Protective Services and make sure children feel safe and cared for. I love children and want to make a difference in their lives. The message I would like to give families fighting with mesothelioma is “You are brave, you are strong, you are loved!” Read my essay.


1st Place Winner

Landon PoeLandon Poe

I am Landon, a cadet at the Citadel Military College of South Carolina. I major in both Business Administration and International Relations, and following graduation I will be pursuing a masters in Planning, Growth & Regeneration at the University of Cambridge next year. Too often, race, poverty and environment converge to create communities near polluting industries, concentrating disadvantage further. I hope to become a policy maker, rejuvenating disadvantaged communities to create equal access to healthy living and working environments. Mesothelioma has woven its threads though my family’s lives but in a lot of ways, it turned my grandfather’s life around. It made him prioritise his body and his family and taught us so much about resilience. Read my essay

2nd Place Winner

Elena Corina AndriescuElena Corina Andriescu

I am very excited to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh and start an inspiring career in medicine! My goal is to ultimately practice medicine in a predominantly African American residentially segregated area. These neighborhoods are often plagued by old housing that contains asbestos, so garnering a comprehention of mesothelioma and its potential medical cares is crucial for me. I thank Mesotheliomahelp.org for this opportunity and I look forward to continuing my education about cancer for a lifetime to come.

3rd Place Winner

Haider ZahabiHaider Zahabi

My name is Haider Zahabi and I am from Baghdad, Iraq. I moved to the United States in 2012 and currently live in Houston, Texas. I have been working to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering since 2013. In Iraq I worked with the U.S. military as an Interpreter in order to help build a positive relationship between Iraqis and Americans. I plan on getting my degree and making a positive impact in the world!!

4th Place Winner

John DreierJohn Dreier

John Dreier is transitioning from being a scientist at a genetics research lab to a physician assitant student at Boston University. He hopes to use his training and passion in the basic sciences to help his patients become familiar with the biological ins-and-outs of their ailments. While cancer and mesothelioma are obviously terrible afflictions, battling these hardships drive people together in a way that is hard to explain. Tapping into that emotion appealed to some basic human part of me.

Fall 2015

1st Place – $2,500

Kennedy McAlpinKennedy McAlpin

I am currently a junior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at Western Kentucky University. I plan to complete my Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology. I hope that I will be able to improve the lives of people with cancer and improving their ability to breathe, swallow, and speak. I have a passion for people that goes well beyond helping them; I want to be the bright spot in their week.

2nd Place – $1,250

Brianne HoglinBrianne Hoglin

I am a premed student pursuing a major in Molecular Biology as well as a minor in Chemistry at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Outside of academics I am a part of the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Track and Cross Country programs here at Lipscomb and a mentor for the IDEAL Program for students with disabilities. Since my start of participation in the essay competition I have talked with some people about the facts I have learned, and shared my thoughts on what we should do to raise awareness as a community. My participation in this experience has also raised thoughts to me about how my career as a doctor can be used to help raise awareness, possibly by me becoming a specialist in oncology.

3rd Place – $750

Michael EllenbergerMichael Ellenberger

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry-Biochemistry. I am currently a post-baccalaureate IRTA fellow in the Medicinal Chemistry section of the Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch, working in Dr. Arny Newman’s Lab. His research involves testing the affinity and selectivity of novel dopamine D2-like receptor-selective compounds via radioligand binding assays. His work seeks to elucidate the structure-activity relationships of D2-like selective agents to further develop compounds to treat cocaine and methamphetamine addiction.

4th Place – $500

Katie KeyntonKatie Keynton

I am a Freshman at the University of Kentucky. I love to travel and do volunteer work. I have gone to Ecuador to build houses for those in need , and I went to Spain to visit my exchange student. I love spending time with my friends and family and helping others. I knew about mesothelioma because both my grandmonther and great grandfather died from it.

Spring 2015

1st Place – $2,500

Kristyn AlbertKristyn Albert

My name is Kristyn Albert, I am 23 years old from Keller, TX. I graduated last May with a Bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Abilene Christian University. After doing therapy in the schools I have decided to go back to school to pursue my love for nursing. I lost my mom to mesothelioma when I was a senior in high school and while becoming a nurse I hope to impact, help and serve those who are sick.

2nd Place – $1,250

Jamila ReddyJamila Reddy

Jamila Reddy is a writer and director and is a graduate student at California Institute of Arts. Jamila is thankful for language and the light it shines on the dark corners of transformation. She received BAs in Sociology and Dramatic Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was drawn to this contest because her mother has been a nurse for over 30 years. She now works in pediatric oncology and hematology, and I have seen- through her- how cancer impacts the lives of so many people. I was drawn to this scholarship as an opportunity to use my writing- my skills and my passion- as a means to raise awareness and advocate for survivors of Mesothelioma.

I would like to say that no matter what you’re going through, the gift of life is one that can never be taken away. Your fight is a reminder to all of us to value our lives to the highest degree, to take nothing for granted, and to live wholly and joyfully in every moment. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this reminder.

3rd Place – $750

Ryan ScribailoRyan Scribailo

I majored in Biology and graduated from Purdue University in 2012. I currently work as a cornea recovery specialist for the Indiana Lions Eye Bank, procuring corneas from donors to help give the gift of sight to those in need. I enjoy working out as a hobby and I am also employed as a personal trainer, where I help people make their body transformation goals a reality. I am enrolled in the Indiana University School of Medicine to pursue my lifelong dream of being a physician.
I liked the idea of a scholarship that is designed to spread awareness about an important public issue.

4th Place – $500

Sarah DunbarSarah Dunbar

I am a 22-year old self-taught freelance Japanese translator striving towards a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. I have translated two books, “Mirror Neurons Will Save Your Life” and “People Who Get Dominated”, by hypnotherapist Nobuyori Oshima. I would like to use my education in finance to help this hypnotherapist further psychological and neurological research in the hopes to feasibly minimize our dependence on pharmaceuticals in the treatment of mental illnesses and disorders, such as autism, PTSD, schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. I am fluent in English, Japanese, and German, and am presently studying Italian and French.


1st Place – Grand Prize ($5,000)

Jennifer SchnalzerJennifer Schnalzer

I am a current Nursing Student at Rockland Community College and work as a paralegal at a law firm in White Plains, NY. I receive my associate’s degree in Paralegal studies in 2005 from Rockland Community College and my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Pace University in 2008. Always being intrigued by the medical field and helping others, I reentered Rockland Community College to pursue my Nursing Career in 2012.

2nd Place ($2,500)

Fernando SalazarFernando Salazar

I am a Biology and Latin American Studies Major and I’ve been doing research on Infectious Diseases for the last two years. I hope to pursue this passion to become and Md/PhD focusing on infectious diseases. I have a personal connection to this topic and I wanted to raise awareness of Mesothelioma and the ubiquitous nature of Asbestos.

3rd Place ($1,250)

Erienne OverliErienne Overli

Aria Overli is getting her Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Nevada in Reno. She’s studying undocumented youth and their struggle for recognition. She decided to enter the scholarship contest because she likes the idea of spreading education and awareness for the betterment of all kind.

4th Place ($500)

Justin HellierJustin Hellier

Justin Hellier attends Irvine Valley College and plans to transfer to a 4-year university in 2015. Justin was able to relate very closely to the contest and the essay as his grandfather battled Mesothelioma for over two years. Justin’s message to families fighting mesothelioma is that “this is when family matters the most”.

5th Place ($250)

Samantha RobesonSamantha Robeson

I am a Sophomore studying engineering at the University of Delaware. My goal is to get into the Bio-Medical Engineering Program so that I can help in the search for a cure and the development of better treatment for those with cancer. My grandfather’s brave fight against mesothelioma has inspired me to enter the field of cancer research, and I hope to make a difference.

2014 Honorable Mentions

Travis Wayne Fergason – Honorable Mention ($100)

I am a part-time graduate student as well as a Pastor of a rural congregation. I love success stories of people who succeeded against the odds. I didn’t know much about mesothelioma before the contest so I thought that by participating in the contest, it would be a good chance to learn more about it.

Kishan Patel – Honorable Mention ($100)

I am an incoming freshman at UCLA as a Neuroscience major. I one day hope to work with Doctors without Borders and provide medical care to underprivileged communities in the world. Why my essay and my experiences with mesothelioma, I wanted the world to know how some things as small as asbestos can affect a person, a family, a world.

Ciara Speranza – Honorable Mention ($100)

I am an undergraduate student at Texas State University in San Marcos, majoring in International Business and minoring in Music Composition. I hope to work with Non-Profits and earn a masters degree after graduating from Texas State University. My grandfather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma so I was aware of the disease, however I did not know some of the key facts about asbestos and what it can do to the body.

Kellie Walsh – Honorable Mention ($100)

I am a Marine Biology / Environmental Science major. Even though I work a lot, in my spare time I enjoy painting, reading, and getting involved in community events. My grandfather passed away of mesothelioma after working many years in naval shipyards. My essay was about the treatment of mesothelioma, I learned more about the modern treatment options that are available.

Josh Page – Honorable Mention ($100)

I am a 29 year old former Marine with an unbounded love of learning. My career path is a journey towards completely understanding the biological workings of the human brain, so that we can systematize human activity with the accuracy of a “hard science” like math or physics. By participating in the contest I learned about technical aspects of the disease, statistics and treatment options.


1st Place – Grand Prize ($5,000)

Cortney SegmenCortney Segmen

I am a Senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience and minoring in Writing. I hope to attend a Master of Public Health graduate program in the fall. On campus I have been involved in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, Chaldean American Student Association, and Camp Kesem, a summer camp for youth whose parent has (or has had) cancer.

2nd Place ($2,500)

Emily GarstEmily Garst

I am a General Engineering student at Virginia Tech. I am on the club gymnastics team and I am in the Women in Engineering living/learning community at VA Tech. I am very intrigued and interested in mesothelioma research.

3rd Place ($1,250)

Karalee CollinsKaralee Collins

I am a surgical-trauma ICU nurse and will be attending the Nurse Anesthesia Program at Duke University to receive my Master’s degree in nursing. I love my job as a nurse and I can’t imagine doing anything other than touching lives through my career. As a Marine, I am motivated to show support for my fellow service members who were exposed to asbestos while serving our country. I want all mesothelioma victims and their families to know that people do care and want to fight for them.

4th Place ($500)

Ashley BarasaAshley Barasa

I am a transfer student to TAMU-CC and I am majoring in Chemistry with a focus in Biochemistry.My goal is to one day become a doctor, and perhaps join in Doctors Without Borders.My most favorite outside school activity is going to church and being with family.

5th Place ($250)

Michaella HammersbergMichaella Hammersberg

I am 23-years-old and I have dreamed of helping others since I was little. I hope to get a degree in psychology, and I want to make helping others my career.

2013 Honorable Mentions

Erika Graham: Honorable Mention ($100)

I am 23-years-old and I have dreamed of helping others since I was little. I hope to get a degree in psychology, and I want to make helping others my career.

Matthew Hassan Harbawi: Honorable Mention ($100)

I am a Respiratory Therapy student in San Joaquin Valley College. After graduation I hope I can help people with Mesothelioma.

Devin Jurczak: Honorable Mention ($100)

I am a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I am involved in the Latino Student Organization, fencing, and volunteer work with the community. I was a member of the National Honors Society and recognized by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce as Student of the Month. I have spent the past tow years working at a daycare center.

Yesenia Leon: Honorable Mention ($100)

22 years old, native to California and studying architecture and sustainability in ASU. Hobbies include wildlife preservation, dancing and sustainability.

Juliana Polson: Honorable Mention ($100)

I am from Superior, WI and I am currently pursuing a degree in accounting from the University of WI-Superior.


Every year MesotheliomaHelp.org runs a $10,000 Essay Scholarship Contest sponsored by Belluck & Fox, LLP, with the objective of helping the educational efforts of students while raising awareness of mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos.The 2012 Scholarship Winners are:

1st Place – Grand Prize

Betsy WarrenBetsy Warren

Betsy grew up in the Northwest where she enjoyed trips to the beach with her family, music, and quilting. Upon graduating with a degree in biology, she enjoyed working in the opposite fields of nutrition research and interior design. After cherishing a few years at home raising her children, Betsy is pursuing a degree in Nursing at Rhode Island College, with the desire to work in maternal, newborn, or child health.

2nd Place

Kimberly McCauleyKimberly McCauley

My name in Kimberly McCauley. I am 26 years old and a fulltime student at AIU in the Criminal Justice field. I am currently working as an Inside Sales Rep for Qubica AMF. When I am away from school and work I love spending time with my family. I have a wonderful fiancé (Bill) and we have an amazing 5 year old (Little Bill) who means the world to us; he keeps us plenty busy at home as any child would with all the energy and imagination they have. I love cooking, dancing, movies and spending nights out on the town.

3rd Place

Kim ForgioneKim Forgione

Kim Forgione graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in wildlife biology. She is now looking forward to starting a doctorate of optometry program next fall at Pacific University College of Optometry.

4th Place

Kate NadeauKate Nadeau

I am a second-degree nursing student entering my senior year this coming spring semester. My first bachelor’s degree is in Health Policy and Management. In addition, I have a Master’s Degree in Public Health. While I am completing my nursing degree from Rhode Island College, I work as a consultant at Advanced Pharmacy Concepts.

2012 Honorable Mentions

Jodeen Henry

My name is Jodeen Henry. I was born in the West Indies in 1994 and I lived there for thirteen years until I moved to America in 2007 with my family. We currently reside in North Carolina. I am a sophomore at North Carolina State University, with a major in Anthropology and two minors in Criminology and Forensic Science. I hope to be a Forensic Anthropologist when I leave school.

Carla Patton

Carla Patton is a Masters of Business Administration candidate at Murray State University, who currently works with Department of Education grants aimed at increasing college access for rural Appalachian students. She hopes to go into nonprofit management when she completes her Masters degree. She enjoys spending time with her family.

Brittany Brooks

Lisa Hu

My name is Lisa Hu and I’m a Physician’s Assistant student at Saint Louis University. Prior to starting graduate school, I worked in clinical research for 4 years and had lots of experience with new clinical trials. This essay contest has made me more aware of mesothelioma, this rare and fatal disease. I will be sure to apply what I learned about mesothelioma to my future patients, in the hopes of preventing or treating them more effectively.

Rachel Norton

Rachel is an Environmental Studies graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her academic interests include examining the environmental and health impacts of natural disasters. Currently she works as a Teaching Assistant for an Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies course in addition to working as a Sustainability Intern for EnergySmart. In her spare time she enjoys running, skiing and biking.


For the list of latest finalists, click here.

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