Meet the 2023 Scholars

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

Mary L.

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."

Normal. Regular. Ordinary. These words best describe what I thought I wanted in life. I believed if I were “normal” that I would be happier, be able to achieve more and be less of a burden. The truth is, we can never be that ideal person unless we accept ourselves for who we currently are. It wasn’t until last year that my perspective on what is “normal” changed dramatically. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at two months old. I am fortunate that for most of my life, I have been surprisingly healthy. I have a deep commitment to my health – staying consistent with a daily routine of medications and treatments. I am very active and love playing lacrosse competitively. However, living with CF, is anything but normal. My first year of Middle School I was admitted to the hospital for two weeks. The healthy life that I had come to know came to halt. I became anxious thinking about all my classmates learning that I wasn’t “normal.” I was going to be the sick girl. After completing two weeks in the hospital, it was time to face my fear. At first, I thought of a million excuses and stories to tell my friends. Anything to make my two-week break “normal”. However, my health had other plans. I returned to school with an IV. While my classmates were kind, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being seen differently. I felt like an animal in a cage. CF had once again prevented me from being seen as “normal.” I felt trapped. I had failed. And it felt like I was slowly losing any sense of the normality I had worked tirelessly to have. Last year, I met someone who defines living with Cystic Fibrosis very differently. He has two siblings living with CF – so his normal is also my reality. He shared words so profound with me that it altered the way I look at my illness. He said, “I hope you know how much of an inspiration you are to so many people living with Cystic Fibrosis. You live with CF and don’t let it define you”. I was a bit confused. I thought CF had won and I would always be defined by it. And then there was my “A-HA moment”…… rather than hiding CF from others, I can embrace it. I can show others what is possible when you are committed to your health. I can define my “normal” to include Cystic Fibrosis. Truth is. I don’t want to be ordinary….I want to be extraordinary! I want to defy all odds, be an advocate for others struggling, a role model and show others the power gained from facing and overcoming challenges. Being normal will never help me achieve my goals. My inspiration will come from being comfortable and confident just the way I am. I am Mary, an 18-year-old driven young woman, fierce friend, competitive lacrosse player living with Cystic Fibrosis.

Mary L.'s Artwork

Mary L.'s Achievements

  • Baylor School Activities • 4 years on Red Circle (working in the admissions office coordinating events at Baylor for incoming students)
  • Founder of “Sister to Sister”- a support group for middle and upper school girls (2022-2023)
  • Recipient of the Mark Wilson Scholarship for academic excellence and community service 2022 and 2023
  • Baylor School Community Service- tutoring elementary school children in reading and math
  • 4 years of violin upper school, first chair 2022 and 2023
  • 4 years of Varsity Lacrosse
  • Team Captain Varsity Lacrosse 2023
  • 4 years of Baylor School soccer
  • Member of the National Teen Advocacy Board for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 2022
  • Tennessee Ambassador for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 2022-2023