Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship Fund
A scholarship, celebrating the memory of Jessica Beth Schwartz, for college bound transplant recipients.
Jessica Beth Schwartz experienced 8½ additional years of life thanks to the gift of organ donation. Jessica’s family and friends continue to honor her memory with a scholarship fund, available to college-bound transplant recipients.
Jessica received a heart transplant and always stayed focused on her goal of college education. This fund supports others who share that dream. It awards $2,500 annually to a transplant recipient who is a senior in high school, or is enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college, university or trade/technical school.
Funds for the scholarship have been raised through the annual event Jessie’s Day – Give the Gift of Scholarship that celebrated its 17th anniversary in 2019. Donations to help support the scholarships can be made online here.
Students who apply must meet the following criteria:
- Be an organ transplant recipient
- Be a senior in high school or currently enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college, university, or trade/technical school
- Reside in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey or Delaware
- Be under the age of 25
- Must use the funds for education at an accredited college, university, or trade/technical school certificate during the current academic year
How to apply
- Write a short essay (200 words or less) that describes an educational initiative to promote organ and tissue donation and transplantation awareness to high school students
- Write a personal statement (500 words or less) summarizing your transplant story and extracurricular and/or volunteer activities
- Provide two letters of reference from a non-relative (eg. from your transplant center)
- Provide current transcript and/or acceptance letter from your college, university, or trade/technical school
2018 Scholarship Winners
Brianna Marie Barker is from Milford, PA and currently attends Penn State University working on a degree in the Biological Sciences and Health Professions Major.
As a young child Brianna suffered from a virus in her heart that she explains had a profound effect on every aspect of her life. Between the ages of 7 – 13 she progressively got sicker, spending long periods of time in the hospital. But at the age of 13 she received the gift of a healthy donor heart and her health was instantly restored.
Upon recovery Brianna started volunteering to share her story and raise awareness around organ and tissue donation. She went to health fairs and community events, volunteered for the American Heart Association and spoke at Go Red for Women Luncheons. She has been a coach for Girls on the Run – encouraging girls to take advantage of their good health. At Penn State University she is a biology tutor, immunology research assistant and photographer for pediatric cancer patients.
As a volunteer for the American Heart Association Brianna helped lobby for the CPR in Schools Bill in New York State in 2012.
Brianna embodies a can-do attitude and doesn’t let her past health challenges stop her or define her.
Christina Reine Dugas resides in Furlong, PA and attended Central Bucks East High School. She currently attends Bucks County Community College and is studying in the Health Sciences Department which includes receiving a Certificate in Phlebotomy. She hopes to become a surgeon’s assistant.
In medical terms Christina suffered from an aggressive battle with ‘acute focal segmented glomeruli sclerosis’ and in August of 2014 was rushed to the Emergency room in complete and total kidney failure; including swollen legs and feet, blindness and hypertension! It was a frightening time in her life.
It took from August of 2014 to April of 2015 including dialysis and endless line infections and rounds of treatment with antibiotics when she was finally cleared to receive a kidney transplant at HUP from her “amazing” father.
Christina says what she witnessed from her life changing experience and with the expertise from her medical teams gave her the feeling of courage, hope and bravery that no matter what all would be okay! She wants more than anything to be able to be a hero for others in her situation.
Described as being a compassionate individual with strong leadership skills necessary to help those in need, we are happy to award Christina a Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship this year.
Nathan Kowalski graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, NJ and currently attends The College of New Jersey.
Nathan and his twin brother Nick were born in Kentucky on March 21, 1998 but Nate was diagnosed with OTC soon after he was born. OTC (Ornithine Transcarbamylas Deficiency) is a rare and lethal disease where the patient is missing the enzyme that breaks down protein. The only way to survive and eat protein requires a liver transplant. Too small to receive a living donation from his Dad, Nathan finally received the gift of life, a liver transplant, when he was 4 ½ months old. Although he does not remember much about that time, he needed lots of medical treatment and therapy throughout his life because of the OTC. In preschool he went for speech, occupational and physical therapy.
From Kentucky, he and his family left the United States and lived in England for about five years and then moved to Flemington, NJ. In High School Nate and Nick both started doing Tae Kwon Do, and Nate began singing in Chorus, and got involved with High School hockey and lacrosse. Helping with these teams spurred an interest in Sports Management.
Currently Nate attends The College of New Jersey as a Career and Community Studies Student. Described as being a determined and resilient young man, committed to his education, his community and his independence; he lives on campus in a house with five other students and a house mentor.
Cameron Linton is from Newark, Delaware and attended Newark Charter High School. He is currently a student at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, where he is majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Sports Management.
Cameron said it was difficult for him to see as long as he can remember. He always needed to bring books close to his face in order to read the printed page. He was prescribed glasses and then contacts but noticed his contacts kept “moving out of place,” particularly in his left eye.
When he was fourteen he was diagnosed with keratoconus (when your cornea is triangular shaped rather than circular shaped.) He was told that he needed a cornea transplant or he could go blind in his left eye.
In a matter of months, after transplant, he went from someone who cold barely see the printed page to someone who excelled academically. It was the best feeling being able to see what everybody else could see out of both eyes, says Cameron.
He describes himself as being truly blessed and forever thankful for the gift of sight.
Today Cameron volunteers as an ambassador for the Lion’s Eye Bank of Delaware contacting young people with corneal blindness and helping them through the challenges of eye surgery and beyond. He speaks at Lion’s Eye Club events throughout Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Described by others as a person with a caring nature and positive attitude, Cameron has actively participated in Transplant Games and is connected with Gift of Life Donor Program participating in the Dash for Organ Donor Awareness.