2023 applications due July 1, 2023
Meet the 2022 GCA JCA College Scholarship recipients
How do you meet life’s challenges? Elliott says, “I never let a physical barrier hinder my participation in an activity, focusing on what I could do rather than what I could not.” Diagnosed at age four with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Elliott relies on a wheelchair. But he leans on ingenuity and will. He was a synthesizer musician in his high school marching band. When complex arrangements required dexterity and wing span, Elliott worked with his instructors to modify the compositions and bring them within reach. He looks forward to playing on in his college marching band and percussion ensembles.
Elliott knows Duchenne is bigger than himself. That’s why he attends the annual Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy’s advocacy conference. He wants to be a transformative force. That’s why he’s participated in calls with his senator and congresswoman to advocate for better access to resources. And it’s why he’s driven to explore electronic breakthroughs in music in college to help others follow their passions.
Nothing can hold Liam McNicholas back. Not the inability to walk. Certainly not Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He and his service dog, Hana, are headed to Southern Illinois University where he’s eager to carry the torch of campaigning and advocating on behalf of the millions of Americans with disabilities.
Liam enjoys video games, music, history and discovering innovative ways to adapt in life. He looks forward to gaining the skills in college to inspire the next generation of children with Duchenne. “I don’t know where I’ll be 10 or 15 years from now, but all I know is that it won’t be easy, but it will be possible to show others that I can make a difference…”
Brooke is an exceptional golfer. She’s also a highly motivated person and a straight-A student. She dreams big. That’s why we have every confidence in her ability to meet her goal of being named Freshman of the Year in the American Conference next year. Brooke is a graduate of Eagle High School in Idaho but come August 22 you can call her a UC Bearcat.
“Golf has given me a great chance to use my talents and work towards and even bigger goal, helping the people around me,” says Brooke. She’s run junior golf clinics, worked at summer camps and traveled the country. These experiences have pushed her beyond her comfort zone. They’ve taught her how to
communicate confidently with leaders. And Brooke believes they’ve given her a head start in pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant.
Hope says her mom is the strongest person she knows. But we encourage her to look in the mirror. She’s shared the pain of living with a family member with an addiction. There were nights spent comforting her little sister. Days spent searching for a good friend. There was poverty, bullying yet escape in an online gaming community that offered no judgement.
Hope is a fitting name for a young woman who shows optimism and determination to rise above those earlier years. Inspired by her mom’s hard work to earn a degree in healthcare management, Hope will be attending UC to study radiology. She shows wisdom and empathy when talking about her dad’s addiction today. Living with him taught her to distance herself from destructive people and behaviors. “I want to go the distance and succeed so far in life that I do not have a chance of returning.”
2021 GCA JCA College Scholarship recipients
It takes wisdom and maturity to find promise in the face of loss. As a six-year-old boy, Cole struggled to comprehend why God ignored his prayers. How could he allow a mom to suffer through cancer? How could he take her away from three children who so desperately needed her? But as months turned into years, Cole’s outlook changed. He had grown immeasurably close to his dad and siblings. And he wondered, “could God have taken my mom away to bring me closer to the ones I love?”
Inner peace turned to outward purpose at LaSalle High School, where Cole served as a Kairos leader all four years. He’s proud to have helped his classmates fully realize the value of family and looks forward to continuing to share his story with others in and out of college.
Sidney’s story is a lesson in embracing change. Think back to the stress of starting high school—making new friends, adjusting to new rules, and finding your way around an unfamiliar building. Now imagine just as you’ve begun to hit your stride, your school moves. When Mother of Mercy and McAuley high schools merged after her freshman year, Sidney felt like she was starting all over again. Still, she adjusted, and with the help of friends, settled into a new normal. Junior year should have been
predictable, but life threw another curveball. The Covid pandemic added chaos to the traditional stressors of college
prep in her junior year. And that rolled right over many of the traditions that should have come as a senior.
Rather than focus on lost opportunities and unmet expectations, Sidney says she’d do it all over again. The experiences have taught her resilience and the confidence to succeed no matter what life brings next.
Allison says she “will always have the drive to study and achieve big things now because you never know what the future holds.” Back in 2014, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She watched as this beautiful, strong woman fought through chemo, hair loss, and a lumpectomy. She stood by her side and encouraged her through the draining days of radiation treatment. All the while, her admiration for her mom grew.
Today, Allison brings courage, determination, and an appreciation for life to all she does. At East Central High School, she served on the student council, local youth group, and a member of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. The future holds success as she begins her career in nursing.
Like far too many families, Madelyn, too, knows the pain and disruption of cancer. Her grandma was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer on Ash Wednesday in 2014 and opted to forego treatment. A short 40 days later, Madelyn and her family gathered around her grandma’s bedside to say goodbye. But the woman who taught Madelyn as much about baking cookies as treating every person with love and respect did something remarkable on her last day. She met with Madelyn and each of her family members one by one to tell them how important they were and how they had made her proud. It was a gift Madelyn works to pay forward.
Madelyn still bakes, just as Grandma taught her. And she returns to her grandma’s gravesite each Christmas to place a personally decorated tree. She carries her spirit within and will undoubtedly bring the same care and individual attention to each patient as a nurse in life’s next chapter.
“In the United States alone, there are 553,000 people who are homeless…maybe their lives would be completely different if people heard their voices.” Since 2010, Grace and her sister have been listening and providing essential comfort to people in need. Yes, that means she was only eight years old when together they established Cozy Toe-zy’s! Cozy Toe-zy’s is an organization that collects unused socks and distributes them to the less fortunate through community giving trees and homeless shelters. Later, Grace and her family expanded into Blessing Bags. These simple bags provide essentials like a toothbrush and soap. Grace keeps them in her car, so she’s ready whenever she encounters a person in need.
Grace says, “It is not mine, nor anyone else’s place to induce judgment, neglect, or hatred toward the homeless community…Seeing the pure joy that one pair of socks or a bag can bring people tells me that I am doing something right.”
2020 GCA JCA College Scholarship recipients
Simon excelled at William Henry Harrison High School. A recognized leader in the classroom, he served as Student Council president for three years. He brought the same perseverance to the field earning Offensive Lineman of the Year. Though the stress of leadership grew, Simon felt bound to face his obstacles alone. That changed the day he agreed to attend a local youth group. “[Prayer allowed] me to give my problems to someone who knows exactly how to…guide me to fix them.”
As Simon’s faith grew, so did his leadership gifts. He is a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp volunteer and actively seeks opportunities to serve the Harrison community. His journey of self-discovery and service has certainly just begun. Look for Simon to make his mark as a Finance major at UC.
Erin grew up a little quicker than the kids around her. Her dad battled cancer and passed when she was eight. Then there were setbacks as her mom managed bills and four daughters. Knowing college would be a struggle to finance, Erin vowed to make everything she did at Taylor High School, something she could be proud of. And Erin did a lot—academic pursuits, service clubs, business clubs, sports, and theater. She admits it was overwhelming at times, but with each activity, she learned more about herself.
The diversity of clubs and activities allowed Erin to meet a broad cross-section of the student body. There was comfort in finding others with stories similar to her own, coupled with the pain of judgment from those who couldn’t relate. But through it all, Erin “learned to be tolerant of others and hear out their stories…and always be compassionate.” Her perspective will undoubtedly take her far as she pursues Marketing and International Business at UC.
Despite being diagnosed with a mild version of Cerebral Palsy, Bryce has been heavily involved in sports since he was young. He’s a proud Yellow Jacket who played football and baseball at Taylor High School. Sports injuries sidelined Bryce more than once. But each time, he met rehabilitation with determination and genuine curiosity. Along the way, he became fascinated by the process of helping others return to health.
While Bryce was in high school, his brother earned an EMT/paramedic certification. Bryce hung on the stories his brother relayed from the field. Honor and service were at the heart of them all, and they stirred Bryce’s own sense of purpose. “See it was at this moment that I knew a career in nursing was what I really wanted to pursue. He’s excited to bring his biggest strengths—reliability, proficiency and patience—to nursing and Cincinnati State.
Claire is a graduate of William Henry Harrison High School, who admits she grew up sheltered. “I thought everybody had it as good as me.” But when the residents of Flint, Michigan, experienced a water crisis in 2014, Claire took notice. Though only in junior high, she joined a small group of students to organize a water drive. It was only the beginning. Once in high school, Claire devoted herself to community service through Key Club, becoming a state officer, and then an executive officer her senior year.
Amidst these experiences, Claire found a passion for global health. She will be studying biomedical engineering at OSU with the goal of becoming a doctor. Ultimately, she envisions starting a non-profit to deliver innovative resources that improve the health of communities in need.