Congratulations to 2013 UFIRST Scholars!

FIRST is proud to announce this year’s nine scholarship recipients from the UFIRST Scholars Program.  Congratulations to everyone and we wish you the best of luck as you continue your education.


Atique Ahmed
Lamellar Ichthyosis

Al Hikmah Institute of Sciences

Goals and aspirations – “I am affected with ichthyosis and it’s been a major barrier for me. I want to break this chain and want to show my worth. I want to research in chemistry that can benefit human kind.”

Elizabeth Joyner
Ichthyosis Vulgaris

Union University

Goals and aspirations: “I look forward to teaching children in an elementary school setting. As I have had the opportunity this first year of college to observe in local classrooms, I appreciate more the different methods used to teach various learning styles. I hope to be able to use what I learn to encourage students and let them know they are all special in God’s eyes and each one can learn in their own special way.”

Jack Leahey
Lamellar Ichthyosis

Princeton University

Goals and aspirations: “I would like to be accepted to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton and walk on as a member of the cross country team.”

Jessica Lewis
Lamellar Ichthyosis

Georgia Regents University

Goals and aspirations – “The main goal in life that I wish accomplish every day is to make a positive impact on every life that I come in contact with day to day. I hope to one day become a Flight Nurse because my passion in life is helping those around me and making a positive difference in their lives.”

Gina Messer
Lamellar Ichthyosis

UC Davis

Goals and aspirations: “Become a successful psychologist, help others through my career and in general, get married, and just live a good, fulfilling life.

Brandon Romero
Lamellar Ichthyosis

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Goals and aspirations – “To find a cure for ichthyosis, whether through my research this summer with Dr. Keith Choate or later in my career; maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout medical school; challenge myself every day to continue learning and to become the best in my field that I can possibly be; make a difference in others’ lives.”

Kathleen Smith
Lamellar Ichthyosis

Lawrence Memorial Regis College

Goals and aspirations: “To be a good person. To become a Nurse Practitioner and open a hospital and nursing school in developing countries. To help increase access to medicine in underserved areas and empowering and educating local people as health workers in their own communities.”

Hunter Steinitz
Harlequin Ichthyosis

Westminster College

Goals and aspirations – “I want to study theology in college and use that along with my ichthyosis to help people understand that it is good to be different.”

Mani Woodward
X-linked Ichthyosis

University of Oregon

Goals and aspirations: “I would like to earn degrees in Human Physiology and Chinese at the U of O and then continue to medical school where I would like to pursue a career as a pediatrician or a dermatologist. “

UFIRST SCHOLARS was established in 2010 with a seed gift from Valerie & David Scholl.  The Scholls are grandparents to an affected granddaughter and wanted to provide an opportunity for affected students to advance their post-secondary education in partnership with FIRST.  Their inspiration is to provide the opportunity for students affected with a form of ichthyosis to achieve their highest educational potential. Donations are graciously accepted to help grow the fund.

Applications are made available on February 1st of each year.  Applications may be downloaded from FIRST’s website. Completed applications are due in March, with a specific deadline announced each year.  Scholarship recipients are announced in May.  

A committee of volunteers evaluates each scholarship application. The applications are scored using the following six criteria:

1) demonstrated academic ability
2) a written essay (topics vary each year)
3) extracurricular activities/community activities
4) financial need
5) recommendation letters, and
6) involvement with FIRST

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