Meet the 2023 Scholars

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

Samantha J.

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."

Your worst nightmare has come true. When you were deciding to attend a college 1,000 miles away from my home and care team, you always had daunting thoughts of “what ifs'' swirling around in your head, but I know you were determined not to let CF dictate your life and force you to stay close to home. Your doctors, family, and team at Boston Children’s had developed a thorough plan for my move for months- everything from the shipments of medications to potential unforeseen health issues. However, there was nothing they or you could have done to predict what happened the night of your first Halloween at college. I know you are so confused, sitting in this emergency room holding the nurse’s hand. Just hours ago, you were so excited to get dressed up with your matching costumes with your brand new friends. Ah, the college experience. Normality! I know how frustrated and angry and scared you are, that CF has hijacked your perfect semester at college. I am here to tell you the debilitating pain you are experiencing will pass. This foreign hospital and foreign nurses and doctors will take good care of you. Trust them. I know right now all you wanted was for mom to be there. But, I am telling you as 21 year old Sam, who has been through this emergency bowel surgery 3 more times since this very scary time, that everything you need is inside of you. There is strength inside you that you don’t even know is there. Mom is there in your heart, and her and your care team has given you the tools to be your own best advocate. You will make sure you are okay. I know you're thinking to yourself, “I never thought this could happen, not to me. I had heard these stories of other CFers going through similar situations, but I was feeling so well, I was blindsided that this happened so quickly”. But this is real. You are going to undergo emergency surgery and sign the papers of consent for the first time all alone in 1,000 miles away from your safe place. And I am going to let you in on a little secret, you are going to survive. You will find peace. You will laugh harder than you’ll ever laugh. You’ll be so happy most days that you skip to class. Everything you are going through will truly make you stronger. More compassionate. More loving. You got this.

Samantha J.'s Artwork

Samantha J.'s Achievements

  • Graduation from USC with Magna Cum Laude and Leadership Distinction in Global Learning, May 2023
  • Health Policy Intern at the Columbia League of Women Voters, 2022-2023
  • Maternal and Child Health L.E.A.P (Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways) Program Research Mentee, 2021-2023
  • 'Discover USC' Research Presentation on my thesis: The People Closest to the Problem Are the Closest to the Solution: An Empirical Perspective of Health Policy” (2023)
  • School for International Training Disability Mentor, 2022-2023
  • Arnold School of Public Health Research Assistant on a study of the biomedicalization of advanced maternal age (P.I Dr. Emily Mann), 2021
  • CF Foundation Advocate and Presenter, 2019-2023
  • Intramural Soccer League Captain, 2022-2023