Meet the 2023 Scholars

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

Mackenzie A.

Undergraduate 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."

Just breathe, it’ll be okay. I know you hate those two words- “just breathe”. Most people see it as a simple piece of advice to calm you down, or help you in between vaults, but for us it’s not that easy, and some don’t understand. Salute, check your number, hit the springboard and block as hard as you can. Looking at that table from 64.5’ away seems scary and daunting, and you think that you won’t make it over again, that you will fail again; but that’s why you’re given a second vault, a second chance. You have to run down that runway just like your coach taught you, but running is hard for you. You are so tiny because of CF, and while most people think it’s cute, you just see it as another challenge you have to face. On top of that, your lungs can’t work at the same pace as your legs. But we will run into many more “vaults” in life; obstacles, from hard classes in high school, to making new friends after we move, to adjusting to college, that we have to overcome. It may seem crazy now, but it gets easier: vaulting, running, and breathing. One day we will win gold medals on vault, and run faster than most of our teammates. We will be able to get over that very same vault table and even flip off of it. New medications and treatments have meant that we don’t have to take a break to breathe during every cardio exercise, and we can go to field days at school or other fun activities with our friends. Here we go; salute, 11 steps, then vault. You run faster than you ever have, and even though it took everything you have, you fly over that vault table and stick the landing. This vault won you your very first state championship, your biggest goal this past year, and taught you the most important lesson. In order to succeed, you have to be able to believe that you can vault over any table despite adversity. We are thriving now, getting perfect grades, new skills, and even teaching others about CF. Every vault that we have catapulted over has forced us to grow in different ways. Just like you didn’t quit after not making it over the table on your first vault, you can’t give up when you see an obstacle. Every one you are able to conquer will make you stronger, even if you can’t see it at first. After this vault, you will start to see that Cystic Fibrosis is one of those hurdles; you can’t see it as something that makes gymnastics harder, or something that gets in the way. If you push past, and see it as your motivation to flourish, you can accomplish anything.

Mackenzie A.'s Artwork

Mackenzie A.'s Achievements

  • Gymnastics Coach
  • Sacred Heart University Club Gymnastics Team, Co-Fundraising Chair
  • Alpha Phi Omega National Community Service Honors Fraternity
  • Sacred Heart University Pre-Law Club, Fundraising Chair
  • National Honor Society Secretary, 2020-2022
  • Dean's List, Honors College 2022-2023
  • Mentor/Volunteer for Ben's Lighthouse Isle of Skoo Program
  • Link Crew Leader 2020-2022
  • Junior Olympic Gymnastics, State Champion and Placed in America's Top 100 Scores
  • Team Boomer Athlete, CF Workout Warrior