Olivia Fitzgerald – 2020 Mesothelioma.net Scholarship Winner

The Scholarship committee at Mesothelioma.net is pleased to announced that the winner of the 2020 Mesothelioma.net Scholarship is Olivia Fitzgerald, a rising freshman at the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford who is planning a career in radiology. The scholarship is awarded to one student with financial need whose life has been shaped by cancer and who has demonstrated strength, a positive outlook, and a devotion to helping others. 

Olivia’s submission to Mesothelioma.net was chosen from approximately 100 applicants. It detailed the challenges and rewards she has faced in her young life from the time that she was just nine years old and her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Olivia was immediately thrust into the role of caregiver while her father worked to support the family.

Despite a prognosis of just three-to-six months, her mother was determined to live as long as she could for her daughters. She lived for ten years, enduring multiple radiation and chemotherapy treatments to realize that goal. Throughout the years of her mother’s illness, Oliva not only stepped up for her family but did so while excelling at school, in athletics and in her extra-curricular activities. At the same time that she was attending medical appointments with her mother, cooking and cleaning for the family and attending to her mother’s personal and physical needs, she was maintaining an A average in her classes, taking on the role of president and vice president of multiple student organizations, and accumulating more than 100 hours of volunteer work.

In detailing her experience, Olivia wrote, “Due to the abundance of intensive treatments I was given the gift of almost 10 more tough but incredible years with the person I love the most in this world.  The years following her diagnosis were far from easy, but I will never look back and regret the time I had with her.

Letters of recommendation that accompanied her scholarship application expressed admiration for her work ethic and compassion for others, and those characteristics were also evident in her compelling scholarship application essay.

The Mesothelioma.net scholarship provides $2,000 to one recipient each year. To be eligible, applicants are asked to submit an essay that details their personal experiences with cancer, whether it is their own diagnosis or that of another person in their life. They are asked to describe the cancer’s impact, how they overcame adversity, and how it has changed their outlook on life and shaped their goals. Applicants must be enrolled full time at a two-year, four-year, community or junior college or in a graduate degree program, though high school and gap-year students with plans to matriculate in any of these program types are also welcomed to apply. 

We congratulate Olivia and wish her nothing but the best as she embarks on her academic journey.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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