Recognizing academic achievementin the rare disease community

2013 Recipient

2013 Recipient



19 years old
San Diego, California

High school:
Canyon Crest Academy
San Diego, California
Graduated June 2012.

University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Started September 2012.

Rare disorder 
Gaucher disease. I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old. I initially started feeling pain in the lower right side of my stomach, below my belly button. It was a throbbing pain and I kept complaining of it, so my parents took me to the doctor. I got blood tests and CT scans and they found out it was Gaucher. It took 6 months to get a diagnosis. It was pretty scary.

Favorite subjects: 
Musical theater and acting.

Favorite activities: 
I’m trying to work on playing the piano and I enjoy photography, but music is my number one passion. I’m also working on songwriting skills because I want to become a songwriter.

Academic and professional plans: 
My current academic plans are to continue developing my skills in theater so that I can get into professional productions and possibly Broadway. Next year I’m going to try to do UCI’s New York Satellite Program so that I can go to New York in the spring semester and audition for Broadway shows.

Proudest moment to date: 
I have three main moments. The first moment is when I won first place in North County Idol. All the high schools in the North County area in San Diego have singing competitions and I was invited to compete in the bigger singing competition, North County Idol, where I won first place.

The second moment is when I won the Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre in the 2012 Globe Honors competition. This is probably my biggest achievement. When I won, not only did I get a scholarship but I also got to go to Los Angeles with the other winners to see the west coast premiere of War Horse. We met with the film’s casting agents and got to do a workshop where I learned a lot of audition tips. It was a really good experience.

The third moment is when I won a National Youth Arts Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical for my role as Tommy in J*Company Youth Theatre’s production of The Who’s Tommy.

How I found out I was the ACES 2013 recipient: 
I opened the envelope and saw that I won and I was so, so happy. My parents were jumping around and it was like a party in my kitchen.

Advice for students applying for ACES next year: 
I would say to be really honest with everything. Definitely focus on your strengths and your passions and how the scholarship is going to help you achieve your dream. Also include what you are doing at the moment to help you get on the right path to achieving your goal. Show that you’re really dedicated to whatever it is you want to accomplish and give examples of what you’ve been doing. 

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