Meet the 2023 Scholars

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

Elyse D.

Graduate Recipient

"Write a letter to your younger self during a key moment in your life addressing one or more of the following: words of encouragement, lessons you have learned and/or challenges you have overcome."

Dear Elyse, I hope this letter finds you well. You are probably wondering who I am, but before I introduce myself, let me clarify the topic of this message. You are in high school, you are single, and you are starting to think about the future. Specifically, you are thinking about how Cystic Fibrosis will affect your future relationships, and you’re scared. You may not have said it out loud, put it on paper, or even admitted it to yourself yet, but deep down, you know it’s true. You think about what dating will be like because of your CF. You feel unworthy of being loved, that you are broken or stained. This could not be any further from the truth. Regardless, you have theorized two scenarios: 1. Your CF would scare away someone when they learn about that part of your life, preventing a real relationship from forming, or 2. If they weren’t scared away, you would end up loving them too much to burden them with your CF, and you would ultimately end up alone. I know this about you, because I am you; I remember feeling this way, but I don’t anymore. I’m not going to tell you that your feelings are invalid, because they are perfectly valid. It’s alright to be wary about the future, but you don’t know what it’s really like being in a relationship, so let me paint you a picture. These thoughts don’t cross my mind often anymore because I am in a relationship that has lasted for more than five years and is still going strong. Sorry, I’m not going to name names. What’s meant to happen will happen. Love is different than I thought it would be. It’s clearly not one-sided. Decisions about your relationship should be made together. That’s obvious to anyone, single or not, but it doesn’t truly register until you are in a relationship. You deserve love just like the next person. Saying that you don’t is like saying that anyone with a trait that’s less than perfect is too broken to be loved. Everyone has flaws. A person’s flaws make them even more worthy of love. You have every right to love and be loved. CF has no affect on what you do or do not deserve. The trick is to find the right person: someone who will hold on tighter the second you try to run away because of your insecurities, someone who will incessantly tickle you because he just wants to hear you laugh, someone who will take the food right off your plate just because, and someone who sees all sides of you and loves you more for every one of them. This all sounds like a cheesy hallmark card, but trust me, it's coming. Don’t let yourself be so scared of the future. Be excited for what’s to come because it is so much better than all the scenarios you can think of. Sincerely, Elyse from the future

Elyse D.'s Artwork

Elyse D.'s Achievements

  • Great Strides Louisiana Ambassador, 2019
  • Design Merit Award (Academic Award), 2019; Design Excellence Award (Academic Award), 2020
  • National Society of Leadership and Success Inducted Member, Spring 2019-Present
  • Member of American Institute of Architecture Students, Spring 2019-Present
  • Part-Time Painting With a Twist Artist Instructor, Spring 2019-Summer 2022
  • Peer Mentor, Fall 2019-Fall 2021
  • Magna Cum Laude Graduate, Spring 2022
  • Graduate Assistant, Fall 2022-Spring 2023
  • Full-Time Architectural Intern, Summer 2022, Summer 2023