Recognizing academic achievementin the rare disease community

2018 Recipient

2018 Recipient



17 years old
Amsterdam, NY

High School:
Amsterdam High School
Amsterdam, NY
Graduated June 2018

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Troy, NY
Entering fall 2018

Rare disorder:
I was diagnosed with hereditary angioedema (HAE) when I was 14. I woke up one morning and my foot and ankle were swollen. I thought maybe I had slept wrong or had twisted it. By the end of that day, my foot and calf were terribly swollen, hot and painful. My Mom has HAE, so we knew there was a possibility HAE had passed onto me and that the swelling was a sign of the disease. We went to an appointment with my doctor the next day, and shortly thereafter the blood test came back positive for HAE. Even though we knew it is a genetic condition, we were all shocked when I was diagnosed. Neither of my older brothers have HAE and until that day not for one moment did we think I could have HAE.

Favorite subjects:
My favorite subjects are anything science related, especially chemistry and biology. I like how you can apply them to real life. This year I took an internship-type class called New Visions Health Careers. As part of this program I shadow a different medical doctor each week at a local hospital. I attend my regular high school in the morning and then go to a local community hospital, and then return to school to finish my afternoon classes. I’ve shadowed emergency room doctors, saw an orthopedic surgeon perform a knee replacement operation, saw a cesarean-section done by an obstetrician, and followed a pathologist and primary care physician. In addition to following the doctors, we have projects and research work. The class has certainly opened my eyes to more opportunities in healthcare and different fields that are possibilities for a future career. It has helped prepare me for college and confirmed that I really want to be a research physician.

Favorite activities:
I love playing tennis and have played on the Varsity team for the past 6 years. I have been ranked number one for the past 3 years as well, and received numerous league honors. I have also played indoor tennis and competed at sectionals. I also love playing the flute. I started in 5th grade and have participated in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) festivals. In High School, I’ve been included in many honor bands including 2 area all-state bands. I also was part of a statewide band this year. In my free time I enjoy reading, especially historical novels.

Academic and professional plans:
I plan to major in Biochemistry and Biophysics in college and am hoping to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities. I’m not sure what area of research I’ll be pursuing, but ideally would like to be involved in HAE or other rare disease research. I would like to possibly do pharmaceutical research and find new treatment options or even cures for rare disease patients. Right now my plans include medical school and to also pursue a PhD.

Proudest moment to date:
My first proudest moment was after one of my NYSSMA solo competitions. This was the last year I was able to compete and I really hoped I would score high enough to be in a state band again. After my audition I was nervous and crying. We waited for my audition score sheet and I was so proud that I got a 99 out of 100 on my audition, and received an invitation to be a member of the New York State Band Director’s Association Band (NYSBDA). My second proudest moment was when I was selected as my school’s Valedictorian. I really feel like all my hard work has paid off.

How I found out I was the ACES 2018 recipient:
I was looking through the mail and saw the ACES letter. I expected it to be a rejection letter as I know there is a lot of competition for this scholarship, but I was so pleasantly surprised and excited when I saw that I was awarded the scholarship. We were in our car and I just started screaming!

Advice for students applying for ACES next year:
When writing your essay, focus on how your experiences have made you feel, how they have made you see things differently, and how your experiences have changed you.

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