Cleft Palate Foundation

2009 Recipients

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Get to know the 2009 CPF College Scholarship recipients!

This year, thanks to the generous support of many donors, the Cleft Palate Foundation is pleased to award a college scholarship to each of the following outstanding applicants. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of past academic success, evidence of leadership skills and/or community and school involvement, as well as strong indications of future academic success.

Congratulations to each of the 2009 College Scholarship recipients!

Katherine Albertini
Alexis Barab
Claire Crawford
Marley Hamrick
Michael Humphrey
Molly Kokesh
John Phillips
Dorothea Trotter
Alexey Vasilyev
Natalie Winter

Katherine Albertini

From: Ellicott City, MD
Destination: University of Notre Dame

I am extremely honored to be a recipient of this award. Throughout my life, my cleft lip and palate have posed challenges to me that I have been able to overcome through the help of many caring individuals, especially doctors and speech pathologists. This scholarship will help me achieve my goal of getting an undergraduate degree in education, so that I will be able to become a teacher and give back to the community in the same way that others helped me as a child.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Katherine Albertini
Katherine Albertini

One night a week during this past school year, I helped to teach a religious education class to fourth-graders at my church. At first, the students were wary of opening up and asking questions about what they were learning. Along with the other teacher, I devised creative methods to get the students more involved in the class. Within a few weeks, they began to walk into class every week excited and prepared to learn.

I have always enjoyed working with children – as a Girl Scout, I have volunteered at a day camp every summer for the past five years as an aid to the adult volunteers. All of my experiences working with children have led me to decide to be an elementary school teacher.

In high school, I began to participate in sports for the first time. During the fall of my sophomore year, I joined the cross country team. The first few weeks were extremely challenging, but I worked hard and eventually got to run on the varsity team at the state championships. A highlight for me was being voted a team captain my senior year. After all of the difficulties I had faced with surgeries and recoveries while growing up, I was finally able to realize that I can do anything I set my mind to and that my cleft lip and palate will not limit me in any way from achieving my goals.

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Alexis Barab

From: Atlanta, GA
Destination: Scripps College

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Claire Crawford

From: Starkville, MS
Destination: Millsaps College

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Claire Crawford
Claire Crawford (center) with her parents, Douglas and Leigh,
and CPF President, Gip Seaver (far right).
Claire received CPF’s 2008 Parent Patient Leadership Award
for her work with the Bears for the Kids Project.

It is such an honor for me to know that the Cleft Palate Foundation is supporting me as I enter college. I feel that the scholarship reminds me of the unique gifts I have to offer as a student affected by a cleft lip and palate.

I have not decided yet what my undergraduate major will be, but my ultimate career goal right now is to work with others who have a cleft lip or palate. I hope to study to become a speech pathologist and specialize in the area of cleft children. My goal is to work at a hospital with an active cleft team as the team’s speech pathologist.

When I’m not at school, volunteering, or playing sports, I love to knit, read, and write. Another of my hobbies is traveling; I want to see as many different cultures and countries as I can!

Most people don’t know that I’m a talented cook and rapper. I can make amazing Oreo beignets and perform the Big Mac Rap for any audience!

Claire has raised over $15,000 for the Cleft Palate Foundation’s, Bears for the Kids projectand was a panelist at the 2008 Connections Conference for Patients and Families. Read more about Claire’s story and her work with CPF.

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Marley Hamrick

From: Longmont, CO
Destination: Colorado College

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Marley Hamrick
Marley Hamrick

To me, receiving this scholarship marks how I have not allowed my cleft to be a deterrent to my dreams. Rather, it shows that I have used my birth defect as a way to direct my life path and set a higher standard for myself.

I plan to major in neuroscience at Colorado College. I am going pursue a career as a pediatric neurosurgeon. I chose neuroscience as a career not only because of my fascination with the subject, but also because of my own experience of having surgeries as a child. My experience has inspired me to work with children in a hospital setting.

Some interesting facts about me – I love acrylic painting and playing the piano, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was four-years-old, and I’m ambidextrous.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Marley Hamrick
Marley wearing one of the
Hats for Hope

Project Fuzzy: Hats for Hope (PFHH) has been my most rewarding community activity. PFHH is an organization that I founded that knits and crochets hats for children undergoing cancer treatment. It has given me the opportunity to hear other’s stories. Because of PFHH, I have spoken to parents and families whose children have had various diseases and birth defects. I have been touched by these children’s stories and how they have struggled and overcome their immense challenges.

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Michael Humphrey

From: Warren, NJ
Destination: Northeastern University

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Michael Humphrey
Michael Humphrey

Thank you so much for extending a scholarship to me. I am looking forward to studying Mechanical Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston. High college expenses are quite a concern so every bit of support helps a lot. I really appreciate your support.

I am just finishing my senior year at Watchung Hills Regional High School in New Jersey. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over. I participated in a great high school engineering sequence called Project the Lead the Way and got to put some of what we learned into practice with our FIRST robotics team. Our robot, “Selene,” emulated being on a moon-like surface and did quite well in the competitions in regional competitions.

Our high school baseball team had an amazing season this year and I got to live it from the behind the plate, as the catcher. One of the parents wished that we would “win the county tournament and go deep in the states” and that’s exactly what the team accomplished. It was a real highlight of my high school years and it felt great to contribute. We played our county tournament at a minor league stadium under the lights. The team win there was exciting.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Michael Humphrey
Michael behind the plate

Thank you to Dr. Don LaRossa and the team at the Facial Reconstruction Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the excellent care they provided me. I was born with a complete unilaterial cleft lip and palate. The required surgeries and the team visits were invaluable. I am very appreciative of all that they have done and of the team’s warm, personable approach. Their care was so excellent that my school years were largely unaffected by my birth defect. I did squeeze in my most recent surgery right before baseball tryouts in my sophomore year, and although getting back into training was very tough it all worked out. We attempted to visit a college the day after the surgery, since we were already in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone – hardly a day to visit schools!

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Molly Kokesh

From: Scotland, SD
Destination: Augustana College

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Molly Kokesh
Molly Kokesh

It is an honor to receive the CPF college scholarship. It means so much to represent an organization that works to improve the lives of those affected by cleft lip and palate—people just like me! My birth defect is the one piece of my personality that is, always has been, and always will be a part of me. It is one of the roughest roads I have traveled but was it ever worth the trip! Whether I am at home, in college, or working in my future career, the challenges I have experienced with this birth defect will forever be a part of who I am—a determined, relentless, strong willed individual.

In my undergraduate studies at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, I will pursue a major in Government and International Affairs (comparable to political science) and a minor in Physics. I will also be involved with the honors program. In addition to my studies, I will participate in Augustana Cross Country and Track. My post-college plans include attending law school. Alongside my practice of law I also plan to write books.

For the first nine years of my life I lived on a farm. Over the course of those years we acquired a vast array of animals (each with their own name of course) including three dogs, about twenty cats, three goats, a coop full of chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cows, bulls, a raccoon, rabbits, and even quail. One time, my father rescued a frozen duck from the field. My two older sisters and I named him Zebbie. We nursed him back to health, allowing him to swim in our bathtub while eating the oatmeal we tossed in to him.

This year I worked closely with our community Youth Center. A few of the board members and I formed a recycling committee in an attempt to create a recycling center or drop off point right in Scotland. This was important to me as I feel it is up to our generation to take care of the environment. God blessed us with this beautiful earth, the least we can do is take care of it and its resources. It was a rewarding experience because it taught me so much about working with adults in committees, and being an extension educator on recycling.

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John Phillips

From: Winter Haven, FL
Destination: University of Florida

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, John Phillips
John Phillips

I was very excited and honored to be one of the…recipients for the 2009 Cleft Palate Foundation College Scholarship. The $500 will go a long way to helping me pay some of my college costs. Currently, I’m looking at majoring in one of the engineering disciplines with a long term goal of working in a research and development role after college. I like playing tennis and golf, and am very involved with my school’s drama program. I’ve been the son in A Wonderful Life, Prince John in theSomewhat True Tale of Robin Hood and a Nerd in this year’s high school spring musical Pom Pom Zombies.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, John Phillips
John with the Bull Gator at the University of Florida

My favorite community activity is my participation in the summer Craniofacial Family and Speech Camps sponsored by the University of Florida Craniofacial team. In the speech camp each summer, I’m a Junior Counselor charged with watching over the campers ensuring their safety and occasionally directing a play for the younger students that allows them to showcase their newly acquired speech skills.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in my life is that everybody at some time faces challenges, some bigger than others. The important thing isn’t the challenge you face, but how you face the challenge.

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Dorothea Trotter

From: Coral Springs, FL
Destination: New College

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Dorothea Trotter
Dorothea Trotter

I would like to begin this mini-personal description by explaining how important this scholarship is to me. Although I am attending a state public school this year, I will transfer in a year to Bryn Mawr or somewhere equally great to continue my education when I have accumulated enough scholarship money and a better idea of what I want to study. This money is joining what I hope will join a growing pile. However, this scholarship means more to me because unlike the others, it recognizes me for what I have achieved in spite my cleft, or how I like to say, because of it. My cleft palate is something I identify with strongly, and it has definitely given me strengths like compassion and courage that would have been much harder to gain through other circumstances.

One thing I have always been proud of is that I can touch my nose with my tongue. However, since I’m not the only one on this page to do so I shall have to describe myself in different ways. I love to run, and so I run for the school’s cross country team and track team. I broke my collarbone playing soccer, only my second injury in nearly 14 years of playing. I write poems, stories, and informal essays with a talent that I nourish through leading the creative writing workshops at my school. I believe that I may one day become a writer or an English professor at someplace like the University of Chicago, but it is my love and skill in all kinds of subjects that cause me to be unsure in my career choice.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Dorothea Trotter
Dorothea and her family celebrating
Dorothea’s high school graduation

One thing I know for certain is that it is unavoidable to wake up early on a Saturday morning to volunteer. Even though the year is almost over and I have completed more than enough hours, I can’t help setting my alarm clock and arriving at my service destination, usually the stables of Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida. No matter how frustrated I am with being born with something that causes me to be different, there I am similar in my differences. As an added bonus I get to muck stalls.

I have also started a run to raise money for Facing it Together. It will be held in the fall and I am excited about the tangible change I can cause in my own personal community by helping children with craniofacial anomalies and limited income in South Florida receive surgeries.

I love living life. Thank you to the Cleft Palate Foundation for making me realize the reasons for that.

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Alexey Vasilyev

From: Apex, NC
Destination: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Being chosen for this scholarship was a big surprise for me; I did not expect being selected from such a large pool of students, most of who, I fathom, were more deeply affected than I by our shared misfortune. Anyhow, I am very thankful for the support and vote of confidence; I will put my time in college to very good use.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Alexey Vasilyev
Alexey Vasilyev

I am pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Computers have fascinated me ever since I was very young, and I’ve been absorbed in their various aspects, from coding to interacting with others to gaming. Math, too, has been a strong suit for me, as I have been many years ahead ever since elementary school. Besides my primary academic interests, I also plan to gain a strong foundation in Spanish and German, as other countries and cultures intrigue me significantly; studying abroad is a possibility. After my undergraduate studies, I want to attain a Doctorate in Computer Science.

My hobbies include playing the saxophone and sports, primarily soccer. I am an enthusiast for integrity in music, movies, and other forms of art that are so rapidly being commercialized and turned into business. I am from Russia originally, so I speak Russian fluently, in addition to English, Spanish, and German; I enjoy foreign languages, as you can see. Technically, I was born in the Soviet Union; jokingly, I like to theorize that my birth caused its breakup.

My advice to others is to pursue your interests and put a lot of time into them, since practice is one of the most important steps to success (besides luck, which one has no control over). Think critically, ask questions, and try your best to achieve a thorough understanding of as much as you can. Knowledge is an invaluable tool.

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Natalie Winter

From: DePere, WI
Destination: Continuing Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

This scholarship means a lot to me because it highlights the achievements I have made in my life, despite the encounters I have had to overcome with my own cleft lip and palate experiences. This scholarship also means a lot to me because it is helping me to achieve my goals of completing graduate school so that I can help and inspire people in the same way that I was.

CPF 2009 College Scholarship Recipient, Natalie Winter
Natalie Winter

I am currently finishing my first year in graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. I plan on working in a school setting so that I can start helping children in their most frequent environment and to help them achieve their best potential. I believe that by reaching children early on, you are helping them to discover possibilities they never would have imagined for themselves.

I also plan on being active in the Cleft Palate Foundation and Operation Smile because these foundations are truly focused on helping children and their families. I am excited for when I can finally go on an Operation Smile trip as a professional Speech-Language Pathologist.

A fun and interesting fact about me happens to coincide with my favorite and most meaningful community activity: coaching gymnastics at the Stevens Point Area YMCA. I can still do some fun tricks, like my splits and a round-off back-handspring! My most meaningful experience involves coaching a gymnast with Down syndrome, one-on-one. I help her with her Special Olympic routines, and have even made it to the State meet with her! She has shown me many things, but most importantly, love and acceptance of everyone you meet. Being in graduate school, I have a crazy schedule, but I always make time to coach her and to spend time with her because she brings out the best in me and everyone she meets!

One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I feel this is great advice to live by because I have felt like I wasn’t good enough but with the help of wonderful role models I have triumphed and am in the process of completing a few of my life goals.

I cannot express my gratitude to the Cleft Palate Foundation for awarding me this scholarship, I am truly thankful, and look forward to being involved in this organization in the future!

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