Recognizing academic achievementin the rare disease community

2016 Recipient

2016 Recipient



18 years old
Rogers, Arkansas

High school:
Rogers High School
Rogers, Arkansas
Graduated May 2016.

Baylor University
Waco, Texas
Fall 2016.

Rare disorder:
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I was diagnosed when I was 9 years old. I didn’t have many symptoms at first, but around 8th grade I started to miss a lot school and had a liver transplant in 9th grade. During that time I missed close to a full semester of classwork. I worked really hard with my teachers and counselors and took on-line courses to make up the material I missed and get back on track with my grade level. Throughout high school my symptoms have been intermittent; sometimes they have very little effect on my life, and at other times my disease really impacts my life and I’m unable to go to school or participate in sports.

Favorite subjects:
All the sciences, especially biology, and history. It is interesting to see the progression of humanity and where history has repeated itself.

Favorite activities:
Anything to do with sports. In high school I played tennis and ran track. Tennis was more fun for me because you are in full control. It is a team sport, but you are on your own during a match. And in track you compete and push yourself on purpose to do well. I also love running, biking and fishing in my free time. I really enjoy anything outdoors.

Academic and professional plans:
I plan on majoring in biochemistry on a pre-med track. Ultimately I’d like to go to medical school and become some type of MD. I’m really drawn to this profession because I’ve seen the effects doctors had on my life through childhood, and it is also a perfect combination between sciences and humanities. It is grounded in biology and chemistry and the sciences, but I will also get to interact with patients and families.

Proudest moment to date:
Graduating on time with my childhood friends was a huge accomplishment. Because I missed a lot of school due to sickness, many people thought I should take a semester off to catch up, but I really wanted to graduate with my friends and pushed myself to do it.

How I found out I was the ACES 2016 recipient:
I had picked up the mail that day and skimmed through the envelopes but didn’t notice the Shire Aces letter. About 30 minutes after I got the mail, my mom came home and began opening the mail. She opened the letter and started yelling my name! We were both so excited.

Advice for students applying for ACES next year:
So many applicants have gone through amazing journeys and worked hard to get to where they are today so I imagine it would be helpful to talk about your experience, how it affected your life, and where you are at today and your plans for the future. Recognize what an amazing opportunity the scholarship represents and be grateful for the chance to apply.

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