Meet the 2022 Scholars

Get to know the hopes, dreams, and talents of this year's winners.

Mary W.

Graduate Recipient

"2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the AbbVie CF Scholarship. As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to continuing to recognize more students pursing their educational goals. Please share your future ambitions in the Cystic Fibrosis community, professionally and personally."

I am choking on shallow breaths—lungs on fire, begging to be put out before the diseased embers spread. Thick mucus embraces me tightly, welcoming me to take my final breath. I should be dead. Fortunately, this was only an ominous prediction due to my life-threatening illness, Cystic Fibrosis. Yet, this disease would not be my greatest battle; instead, I would be fighting the stigma of an invisible illness. The stigma of having a hidden but deadly disease has put me through trials and tribulations of educational and medical institutions questioning my health. I was battling an illness and fighting to gain access to medication and medical accommodations so I could have equal opportunities in life. Although my story is atypical from an outside perspective, within the Cystic Fibrosis community, my story is the life that thousands face daily. My experiences contribute to my passion for aiding the community and listening to individuals who experience social inequalities in the many facets of life. My future aspiration in the Cystic Fibrosis community is to become the voice for the voiceless on issues such as equal access to life-saving medication and medical accommodations by pursuing a Juris Doctorate. The right to have access to life-saving medication and medical accommodations are topics that influenced me to pursue a career in law. Throughout my life, I have experienced and witnessed the struggles of gaining access to medication or equipment that could save a life, especially internationally. Community members are fighting for equal access to breathe and to do so, they need medical support, which may go unanswered. I have also experienced the struggle of explaining my invisible illness to those unaware of Cystic Fibrosis to gain access to medical accommodations during my educational career. Hospital beds turned into my classroom, where I fell academically and socially behind. However, the hospital was not the problem. Returning to school and not being accommodated became the issue that has propelled me to fight for equal access. Children and adults living with Cystic Fibrosis may turn away from seeking medical accommodations due to the stigma of needing assistance through school and appearing healthy enough not to need accommodations. But, I want to fight this stigma and advocate for those with invisible disabilities that deserve the right to breathe and have a life filled with opportunities. Although I faced many struggles and continue to face disadvantages, I gained a new lens that will aid me in paying it forward to the Cystic Fibrosis community as a student of law and a future attorney. I understand struggles that are not as apparent and the importance of advocating for medical needs. The Cystic Fibrosis community is filled with individuals from every walk of life. I am determined and passionate about giving back to the community that helped me become the individual I am, one breath at a time.

Mary W.'s Artwork

Mary W.'s Achievements

  • Alpha Xi Delta Academic Director (Fall 2020 - Fall 2021)
  • Stetson Honor Roll (Fall 2018), Stetson Dean's List (Spring 2018 - Spring 2022)
  • Writer and Photographer for Stetson Today (Fall 2018 - Spring 2022) - part-time Stetson student worker
  • Member of Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society (2019), Order of Omega Greek Honors Society (2021), and Rho Lambda Greek Honors Society (2021)
  • Received the Outstanding Senior Award in Sociology (Spring 2022)
  • Stetson Blogger for the Stetson University Marketing Department (Fall 2018 - Spring 2019)
  • Alpha Xi Delta Chaplain (Fall 2019 - Fall 2020)
  • Magna Cum Laude (Spring 2022)
  • Member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity (Spring 2020)
  • Research Assistant (Spring 2021 - Spring 2022) and co-author for an upcoming research paper discussing crime, race, and incarceration on a national level.