Philadelphia, PA — The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship is pleased to announce that three organ transplant recipients are the winners of its 2020-21 higher education scholarships.
The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship is funded through the Transplant Foundation, the charitable foundation which supports the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program. Each year, the scholarship program issues $2,500 awards to transplant recipients seeking higher education. The scholarship was created in memory of heart transplant recipient Jessica Beth Schwartz.
“Each year I am inspired by the challenging journey these young men and women have experienced at such a young age,” says Jessie’s mother and scholarship co-founder, Janice Schwartz-Donahue. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue to honor my daughter’s legacy by helping these students pursue higher education.”
2020-2021 Scholarship Winners:
Justine Applegate – Manchester, NJ
At just 12 years old Justine’s active lifestyle was abruptly changed when she was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. Her disease steadily progressed, and when she was 15, she discovered she would need a double lung transplant to survive. Six months later, in February 2012, Justine’s life was transformed when she received the life-saving gift of a double lung transplant. Thanks to her transplant, Justine was able to graduate from high school and begin college. Then, shortly after starting at Montclair State University, her health took a turn for the worse, escalating into in a month-long coma in the fall of 2014, Justine had to relearn how to walk and eat. It was determined that she was rejecting her new lungs and would require another double lung transplant. She waited for three long years before she would receive her second double lung transplant in August 2019.
“I am now 9 months post-transplant and I plan on going back to school for social work and child advocacy.”
This fall, Justine plans on studying at Montclair State University.
Jennifer Dunlea – Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer was born with Cystic Fibrosis and later developed diabetes as a result of her illness. Her medical condition took her family cross country as they moved from California to Colorado and finally settled in Philadelphia so she could receive the best care possible. In 2015 she received a life-saving bilateral lung transplant. After her transplant, she was diagnosed with Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders, a type of lymphoma that can be a result of solid organ transplants. Now, Jennifer is a healthy and motivated young woman who encourages others to register as organ donors to help save the lives of more people like her.
“Motivated by my condition, I immensely enjoy giving my time to the foundation, advocating organ donation awareness, and how it is indeed the Gift of Life.”
Jennifer plans on studying Journalism and Advertising at San Diego State University.
Jackson Heller – Lafayette, NJ
At just two years old, Jackson was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, his chance of survival were “slim to none.” In February 2004, he received the gift of life through a liver transplant. Now, 15 years later, Jackson is able to live his life like a normal teenager spending his time with friends and serving as soccer captain. He has made it his mission to educate his classmates and teammates on the importance of registering as an organ donor.
“I pledge everyday that I let people know about my story so that in the future, unfortunate kids such as myself will receive the same blessing and miracle that I did fifteen years ago.”
Jackson plans on attending West Virginia University this fall.
Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship
Just a few days after she was born, Jessica Beth Schwartz was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Her heart and body began to slow down by the age of 14. But thanks to someone who said yes to organ donation, Jessica was able to experience eight and a half additional years of life.
A total of 65 students have been awarded scholarships since the fund was created in 2003 in her honor.
To be eligible for the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, students must be an organ or tissue transplant recipient under the age of 25, seniors in high school, or be enrolled in a two or four-year college, university, trade or technical school.
To contribute to the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund, or for more information on scholarship criteria, visit www.jessiesday.org.