Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund
The family and friends of Jessica Beth Schwartz continue to honor her memory with a scholarship fund, available to college-bound transplant recipients. Jessie received a heart transplant, and always stayed focused on her goal of college education, and this fund is meant to support those high school students who share that dream. Funds for the scholarship are raised primarily through the Transplant Foundation and Jessie's Day, an art auction and music celebration held each September. Donations can be made online here.
Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship, funded through the Transplant Foundation (the charitable foundation supporting the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program) awards $2,500 yearly to a transplant recipient under the age of 25 who is a senior in high school or enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college, university, or trade/technical school.
To apply, students must meet the following criteria:
- Be a solid organ transplant recipient
- Be a senior in high school or presently enrolled in a 2 or 4-year college, university, or trade/technical school
- Reside in Gift of Life region (Eastern half of Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey or Delaware)
- Be under 25 years old
- Use scholarship award for continuing education at accredited college, university, or trade/technical school certificate program during 2012-2013 academic year
- Write a short essay (200 words or less) describing an educational initiative to promote organ and tissue donation and transplantation awareness in high school students
- Provide a personal statement (500 words or less) summarizing their transplant story and extracurricular and/or volunteer activities
- Provide two letters of reference from a non-relative (eg. from Transplant Center)
- Provide current transcript and/or acceptance letter from college, university, or trade/technical school
The 2017 Scholarship Winners:
Rachel Erin O’Brien
Rachel lives in Middletown, NJ and will be attending Penn State Abington, PA in the fall, intending to major in Rehabilitation and Human Services.
Rachel describes herself as someone who has been made stronger and more determined by the challenges and setbacks she has faced in her life. Diagnosed when she was just eleven days old with biliary atresia she had to wait on the transplant list for more than a year before receiving a life saving liver transplant.
In her scholarship application she writes, “Perseverance has kept me in step with my classmates, despite having periods of absences, and allowed me to participate in sports and other activities otherwise thought impossible.”
She enjoys sharing her story in hopes of inspiring others to want to make a difference when they can. Rachel says she is living proof that transplantation works, and has the insight to value good health to protect the organ she has been fortunate enough to receive.
She has served on the Patient Panel at CHOP on Biliary Atresia Education Day in March, and is a member of the Children’s Hospital Youth Advisory Council.
She looks forward to participating in Health Fairs or similar events to represent and promote organ and tissue donation.
Maximillian V. Policelli
Maximilian lives in Nazareth Pennsylvania and currently attends Penn State Behrend in Erie, PA. where he is majoring in Plastics Engineering Technology.
He writes, “I believe that receiving a transplant has helped me be more compassionate and understanding of others and their daily struggles. I enjoy being able to serve others and volunteer to make the world a better place to live, no matter how much time we have on earth.”
Maximillian was born with biliary atresia and had multiple surgeries prior to his liver transplant at the age of 14 months.
Since then he has led a very healthy life and has been able to do things other kids do. Through Boy Scouting he has hiked the Appalachian Trail in six states, bicycled across the Erie Canal and spent over 200 nights camping. Scouting has led to a life of service where he has helped in trail restoration in camps and state parks, barn owl conservation, Memorial Day Services and flag retirements. He has also reached the rank of Eagle Scout. While in High School he served as an assistant to the librarian at Blue Mountain Community Library and volunteered at a retirement community.
Leading an extremely full life, he was also an excellent student and earned membership into the National Honor Society in High School.
Joseph Kelleh Mansaray
Joseph is from Camp Hill, PA and attends East Pennsboro Area High School. He has been accepted by Millersville University.
Born in March of 1999 Joseph was living a relatively normal life, until his world was flipped upside down in 2015. The day after school ended he woke up complaining of shortness of breath and was taken to his local hospital. From there he was rushed to Hershey Medical Center and then to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Joseph was an athlete who played Soccer and ran track and was immediately told that over exertion in any one of those sports could have caused him to collapse and die. An LVad was inserted into his chest to support the left side of his heart to see if that would help with blood flow. After a three-month stay in the hospital and some extra time spent in Philadelphia he was told his heart was not getting any better and he would need a heart transplant. He received his transplant in February and was told that by August he might be able to play sports again. August was the beginning of his Soccer season so he was highly motivated to get into shape. Slowly but surely he gained his strength and stamina back and returned to school for his senior year ready to play the sport that he loved.
Joseph writes; “After that whole experience my outlook for many things has changed, I cherish life a lot more and I learned to not take anything for granted, and that organ donation can really save a person’s life, and I am very grateful for my organ donor. “
Joseph has done an interview and a commercial advocating for organ donation showing him playing soccer, a normal teenager spending time with family and friends because of an organ donor!
Nicholas Michael DiIenno
Nicholas graduated from Salesianum High School in 2013 and is currently attending the University of Delaware where he is working on achieving a BA degree in the Biological Sciences. He looks forward to graduating with the class of 2018!
At the age of 16 Nicholas was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease known as keratoconus. A year later he was unable to see anything but shadows out of his left eye. After numerous trips to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, he had a full corneal transplant that improved his vision tremendously.
Nicholas describes himself as a college student with a demanding schedule who always finds time to volunteer in his community. Described by others as a reliable, mature and sincere young man he is also very aware of the need to motivate others to become organ and tissue donors.
Nicholas feels truly blessed to receive this gift of sight!
Each September, Jessie's family and friends hold a big fundraiser to help raise money for the scholarship through raffles, door prizes and tickets. Learn more about Jessie's Day.
Photos from the Jessie's Day Celebration fundraiser
End of Year PR
Record Year for Gift of Life!
Gift of Life broke two national records for organ donation in 2017. We are so thankful to all donors and donor families who have selflessly given the "gift of life." Read our full statement here.
Transplant Patient Resources
Donor Dash – April 15!
SAVE THE DATE! The 23rd Annual Donor Dash will be SUNDAY, APRIL 15 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Registration is now open.
The 2018 Donor Dash will feature 10K and 5K runs, a 3K walk, and a Kids Fun Run. This special event attracts people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.