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Meet Piper

Meet Piper

years awarded


Engelhardt Family Scholar



Scholar Quote: Because of my difficult experience, and the people that helped me through my illness, my ultimate goal is to help others around me.

I still remember my dad’s voice saying the word “cancer.” As an eight-year-old, I hardly knew what the word meant. I had heard about it in movies and seen fundraisers for it, but I didn’t truly understand what it was. I was admitted into the hospital that same night, and I was introduced to what my life would be like for the next three years: constant bouts of nausea, endless hospital visits, a never-ending list of medications, intense feelings of isolation, and great anger towards the world. The main thought swirling around in my head was, “Why me?” When I looked in the mirror, I struggled to see my self-worth. I became extremely self-conscious and, as a result of my appearance, I developed social anxiety. It was very difficult for me to accept myself when I looked so different from those around me. I withdrew from social situations, and I became anxious when in public. I struggled to order food at restaurants, or even stand in line to checkout at a store. I didn’t speak out in class or share my opinions during group discussions. I did everything in my power to appear invisible. I had lost my joy and compassion for the world. Cancer stripped me of a normal childhood, which made me view myself as even more of an oddity.

Despite struggling for so long with self-confidence, I am now more confident than ever. Today, I participate eagerly in group discussions and voluntarily speak in class daily. I have no problem ordering my own food, I have even become the designated orderer when I am out with my friends. Now I find comfort in doing things alone, not caring if I have to wait in line by myself. I wear fun and colorful outfits, ignoring any strange looks that I may receive. I have taken on leadership roles in multiple clubs, something I never thought I would have the confidence to do. My childlike self has returned and is happier than ever. I no longer hold a such strong value in how I am perceived by others. Instead of being ashamed, I am now proud that I survived such a difficult situation, and instead of hiding that part of my life from others, I am now more than willing to share that part of my life. My mindset has changed from not understanding why I got cancer, to believing that I am capable of anything. Had I not had cancer, I would not be as strong and as driven as I am today. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see experienced eyes, I see a self-assured smile, and I see beauty.

Because of my difficult experience, and the people that helped me through my illness, my ultimate goal is to help others around me. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have wanted to enter the medical field in order to benefit others. My doctors and nurses had a very large impact on my life, and are the reason that I am still alive today. For that reason, I decided that I wanted to work with kids in the medical field and help kids just as my doctors and nurses helped me. In pursuing a career in Speech Pathology, I will be able to help improve children’s confidence, something I have always dreamt of doing. There are a limited number of schools in the northeast that offer majors in this field, one of them being the University of Vermont.

Out-of-state schools such as UVM create a financial burden that would be heavily improved by a scholarship such as this one.