Meet Our Scholars

Meet Aurora

Meet Aurora

meet aurora

years awarded




Scholar Quote: The perspective cancer gave me is life is wonderful, and to care for others, because we aren't alone. No matter the challenges I have faced, I was determined to get through them.

I love to eat good food, and I am always open to trying new ones. Since I was a kid, my parents always told me, “Life is like a dinner, but life is more of your main dish and everything that happens is your side dishes. Some of those side dishes are the ones you have to take a “No, thank you helping.” This quote has proven to be true in my life.

Cancer helped me realize life is truly the main dish. At age of 7, I was diagnosed with ALL, (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Cancer is a “No, thank you helping” no one wants. To add to the bad news, the doctors didn’t have a positive outlook for me. But I knew deep down I was determined to survive and live a long happy life. The doctors did their best to reassure my parents they would treat me with the best care in hopes to have a normal childhood. When he said the word “normal” I knew I wouldn’t ever be normal. When I came into the hospital, I could not use my legs. Due to the severity of my symptoms, I was in a wheelchair. And so, after the diagnosis, I started my 7-year journey of physical therapy and realization I will have to work hard to play with the other kids.

Strangely enough, cancer was the best blessing I could ever imagine. I met some inspirational people- including my friends Ryan and Haley. There were many more blessings as a result of the diagnosis, but the two of them are special desserts made just for me. Ryan was a nine-year-old with brown curly hair and bright blue eyes. He was the first kid who talked to me in the hospital. I learned Ryan was diagnosed with lymphoma. We talked for what felt like hours and at the end of the conversation and with a smile on his face, he said, “You do not need to worry, the doctors will fix you, and you are not alone in this fight.” Ryan died, on July 30, 2011. I was confused because the doctors were supposed to fix him. Ryan touched so many people in his short life, that a music therapy program for kids with cancer was started in his honor called Ryan’s Light. He’ll always be in my heart.

After Ryan died, I gave up making new friends, until I met Haley in the hospital hallway. She and I got along instantly, and our families had an instant connection. They were kind of like one of those comfort side dishes of mac and cheese. On July 13, 2014, Haley Lyrrell died. Right before her death, she told me the same thing that Ryan said: “…you are not alone in this fight” but added afterward that “our friendship will last longer than a lifetime no matter what happens to us.” Losing Haley was overwhelming, but after finishing my treatment and moving into remission, I knew I wanted to make a difference in other kids’ lives. I became a child liaison for ACCOIN (American Children’s Cancer Organization Inland Northwest). ACCOIN is a nonprofit that educates, supports, and advocates for families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them. I knew I had to be a part of this group to help other kids like Ryan and Haley helped me. Sometimes just being there to talk helps with the healing.

Cancer opened new opportunities for me to continue the success story of my life. It helped me open up to going outside my comfort zone and I call those outcomes my “desserts”. The perspective cancer gave me is life is wonderful, and to care for others, because we aren’t alone. No matter the challenges I have faced, I was determined to get through them. Cancer wasn’t easy, but it allowed me the opportunity to solidify a dream I had always had. I will be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with a specialty in ornithology, and I know Berry College would be the spot for me to start my journey. Going to Berry College will have a financial impact on my family, and they have always been my biggest supporter. I want to do all I can to assist with defraying the cost, this scholarship will help me. Life is my main dish, and sometimes the side dishes that are served with my life are scary, salty, and sweet; however, they don’t prevent me from taking my “No, thank you” helpings and still enjoying my desserts.