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2010 Recipients

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CPF’s 2010 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 2010 College Scholarship recipients!

John Bernhart
Kathleen Bogart
Ashley Christian
Emilee Conard
Matthew Edwards
Caitlin Flynn
Logan Gallagher
Nathan Hallman
Alex Isenberg
Elizabeth Jensen
Michael Lindler
Karissa Parker
Laura Reinke
Jorge Trinidad-Espinoza

John Bernhart

From: Morgantown, WV
Destination: Baylor University

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, John Bernhart
John Bernhart

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to represent Him in the Cleft-Palate Foundation. Though I cannot see the plans that God has for me or understand them, I would love to one day serve as a mission’s doctor, traveling into third-world countries providing professional aid to those who need it most. I would love to see cleft-palates made into smiles that radiate the beauty of all God has created. I am adopted and would love to serve in orphanages or communities. Without Christ and His work in and through me, I am nothing. I look forward to embracing the mysterious, yet knowable God, in my pursuit to fulfill His purpose for me on His Earth. Because each day I wake up with new life, I know His plan for me has not been completed. As a result, I strive to journey with Him and live my life according to His good and perfect will each day.

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Kathleen Bogart

From: Medford, MA
Destination: Continuing Graduate School at Tufts University

I am honored to receive this award from the Cleft Palate Foundation in support of my education. I was born with Moebius syndrome, a rare condition that results in congenital bilateral facial paralysis and impairment of lateral eye movement. Faced with this challenge, I can recognize firsthand the importance of facial expression to social interaction. My observations as a person with facial paralysis have driven me to study the psychological and social implications of facial paralysis and other disorders that result in facial movement dysfunction like Moebius Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and hemifacial microsomia.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Kathleen Bogart
Kathleen Bogart

I received my Master’s degree in Social Psychology at San Francisco State University, and I am currently a Psychology PhD student at Tufts University. My master’s thesis studies found that adults with Moebius Syndrome have levels of subjective well-being commensurate with the general population, but they experience difficulty during social interaction. My current research focuses on how reduced facial movement affects social interaction, and how to facilitate emotional communication for people with these conditions. It is my goal to develop a social interaction training intervention for people with facial paralysis. I suggest that facial movement disorders can facilitate communication by using body language, vocal tone, and verbal disclosure during social interaction. As a person with Moebius Syndrome, I have a unique opportunity to build and increase the representativeness of the psychological literature about facial paralysis by conducting research informed by my experience with the condition. My goal is to devote my career to developing the research on the psychology of facial paralysis.

Throughout my research, I have encountered many people with craniofacial differences who display amazing strength and resilience. My advice to others is: don’t let craniofacial differences hold you back. Take the strength you gained from living with your condition and let it propel you forward. Use your determination to accomplish what is important to you.

Kathleen’s work was recenly featured in the New York Times. Check it out!

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Ashley Christian

From: Kingsport, TN
Destination: Centre College

I am from Kingsport, Tennessee, and will be attending Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. I am very honored that I received this award and that I will be able to use this scholarship to further my education. Throughout my life, my birth defect has posed many struggles and obstacles which have made me into the person I am today. Even if I had a choice I would not change anything, for the road I have traveled has made me strong, independent, caring, and compassionate. The cleft palate team at Duke University has done a wonderful job on my surgeries and has helped to give me the confidence to succeed in whatever I do. I will use this scholarship to receive an education and become a craniofacial surgeon so that I may help other children with birth defects such as mine and give them the confidence and knowledge that true beauty comes from within.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Ashley Christian
Ashley Christian

Besides school I play varsity softball, volunteer in the emergency department at my local hospital, and sing in the youth praise band at my church. I love to talk, spend time with my friends, read, and be outside.

My final year in varsity softball has been truly amazing. I have hit home runs and led my team in the outfield to many wins. I am very excited to say that I will also be playing softball at Centre along with my studies. I am glad that I will be able to play a sport in college that I am very passionate about.

When I become a craniofacial surgeon, I not only want to work with a cleft palate team but also go to less fortunate countries and perform surgeries for organizations such as Operation Smile and other charities that give children who are not able to pay for surgeries a chance to have a beautiful smile.

One big lesson I have learned in my life is that true beauty comes from within. An individual’s personality and heart are what truly determines their worth. I hope that as I give myself as a craniofacial surgeon to children like me that I make a difference in their lives, one that will imprint itself upon their hearts for forever.

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Emilee Conard

From: Ruskin, FL
Destination: Hillsborough Community College (hopes to transfer to Florida State University)

Receiving the Cleft Palate Foundation scholarship means a lot to me and my education. I plan to major in engineering at the Florida State University; however the money was not there for me to attend this year. So for now, I will be going to Hillsborough Community College to save up money so that I can transfer when the time comes. Being awarded this scholarship helps me to achieve my goals. I have always enjoyed helping others and I feel that I will be able to do so as an engineer, because I would be able to create new technologies to provide better services to those that need them.

Having a cleft has influenced my life, but not as great of an impact as others might think. One thing having a cleft has taught me is to not judge people based on their looks, because you do not know the struggles a person has faced. My family was there for me during all of mine and has helped me to overcome the challenge of having a cleft lip and palate. As a matter of fact, it has not held me back from anything. I am involved in several activities at my school including student government, marching band, and even math competitions. I also participate in many volunteer activities like Relay for Life and Make A Wish.

I thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for awarding me with this scholarship. I am truly honored to have been selected.

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Matthew Edwards

From: Greenville, NC
Destination: East Carolina University

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Caitlin Flynn

From: Bronston, KY
Destination: University of Louisville

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Caitlin Flynn
Caitlin Flynn

This scholarship is not just a monetary reward for me. It also signifies a triumph over adversity and a testament to perseverance. I aspire to assist other young people with disabilities to realize and utilize their full potential. While this scholarship will certainly assist me in my present journey to the University of Louisville and attendance at a school of medicine, it also will benefit those that I plan to assist in my future career as a physician.

My “Bears for the Kids” project continues to be an activity that I hold dear to my heart. I recently spoke at a local church in our area regarding cleft lip and palate deformities. They are sponsoring medical missionary work, and requested that I speak with their congregation to provide information concerning care of children born with this birth defect. It was an honor and blessing to me to provide a possible connection between them and children who need aid. I brought the GUND bear along to provide a visual of my project and to encourage participation of others in our community.

I’m currently also pursuing other interests outside of academics. I enjoy creating altered art jewelry and sculpted clay figures. A line that I am currently creating involves fairy tale characters with a twist. A favorite is Cinderella whose feet are swollen from dancing and the glass slippers. Alas, the shoe no longer fits.

I firmly believe that if you stay the course and have the will, then your life goals are attainable. I’ve made revisions several times to mine, but I’ve always stayed true to the person that I know that I am. Believe in yourself, aim for independence, and smile as you make the journey. Our smiles are the testament to our experiences. I wouldn’t be the same person if my smile were different.

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Logan Gallagher

From: Carlsbad, CA
Destination: Boston College

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Logan Gallagher
Logan Gallagher

Throughout my high school career, I have spoken on behalf of groups such as Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and the March of Dimes, sharing my experiences about living with birth defects. These opportunities have taught me that I enjoy speaking about my condition and I have realized that I can be an advocate for myself and others in my position. I believe these lessons will be important as I pursue a major in Political Science at Boston College in the fall of 2010. The Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship helps bring this goal within reach, and I thank the Foundation for their generous award.

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Nathan Hallman

From: Rochester Hills, MI
Destination: University of Michigan

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Nathan Hallman
Nathan Hallman at birth

I very much appreciate being awarded the Cleft Palate Foundation College Scholarship. I will be attending the University of Michigan in the Fall, and this scholarship will help me pay my way. My plan is to study Actuarial Mathematics, and ultimately have a career as an Actuary.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Nathan Hallman
Nathan Hallman

I am also a passionate jazz musician. I play jazz on saxophone, clarinet, and flute. I am very lucky to be able to play these instruments even with my cleft palate, and I would encourage those with similar defects to try to play wind instruments despite their cleft palate. It is somewhat harder to play with a cleft, but it is definitely worth it if you have the drive to do it.

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Alex Isenberg

From: Freeport, PA
Destination: Undecided

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Alex Isenberg
Alex Isenberg

This scholarship, hopefully along with some other ones, is helping enable me to attend either Temple University or Georgetown University. It means a lot to me because it really feels good to be rewarded for all the hard work put in to get to where I am today. Without your scholarship, affording school would be even harder than it is now. I thank you for that.

I plan on majoring in biochemistry for my undergraduate degree and then going onto medical school. I want to eventually be a craniofacial repair surgeon. I got interested because of my cleft lip and palate, and really feel that I can make a difference.

I enjoy playing sports. This year, being a varsity football captain, we won out first section title in 17 years, along with capturing our programs 500th victory. We also went undefeated in our section for basketball, where I was also a captain. We made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals and I was selected an all conference player by other team’s coaches. To this point in time, we are undefeated in track and field as well, with two relay teams of which I am involved, have state track meet qualifying times. I’ve had quite the year to remember so far.

A fun fact lies in the fact that all the while with playing these sports, I am an avid dancer. I take and teach dance class at my mother’s dance studio, Lisa Marie’s School of Dance.

I truly thank you for this scholarship of which you have give me and I will make you proud that I was your selection.

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Elizabeth Jensen

From: Tomah, WI
Destination: University of Wisconsin – Madison

I am extremely honored to be receiving this scholarship, especially from a caring foundation that supports individuals and family members affected by the birth defect I have overcome.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Elizabeth Jensen
Elizabeth Jensen

I joined both band and choir in the 6th grade and immediately blossomed in music. I quickly prospered and became a leader in the music department; however, I knew that my shortage of upper lip and soft palate would always impair both my trumpet-playing and singing. Despite this, I drove myself to become the best I could be, and this instilled a deep passion for music that I will always carry. In high school, after my Rhinoplasty and Abbe’s Flap procedure, I could no longer play my trumpet. My soft palate prosthesis, however, greatly aided my singing abilities. These outcomes directed me to pursue a degree in choral music education next fall. In my future I want to be a professor of music theory and music composition, and this scholarship will help defer the cost of obtaining my professional teaching degree.

Having a cleft greatly helped me, both in academics and general morality. This year I enrolled in Anatomy/Physiology Honors class, knowing that I knew a lot of facial terminology already. This helped motivate me to succeed in a class that I otherwise would not have been interested. A fun fact about myself is that my first surgeon in Nebraska, Dr. Phillip Metz, used to be on the board of physicians for a few former presidents. He currently works to correct cleft lip and palates in underprivileged countries. Throughout my childhood, I learned to accept both myself and others for who God made them, not who the public believes we should be. I also learned to stay strong in what you love, no matter what difficulties lie in your way. I guess my life motto is: Don’t worry about how your face looks – in fact, revel in this difference! How many people get to look like Cat-Woman in their lifetime?!

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Michael Lindler

From: Tobaccoville, NC
Destination: North Carolina State University

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Michael Lindler
Michael Lindler

This scholarship is of great benefit to my family because of the burdens of paying for college. A scholarship from The Cleft Foundation means that I have been able to use what was a disability into a tool for furthering my education. Every amount that I can receive for my college experience will help me to get the most out of my years in college.

I have always been a problem solver, and my interests lie in Chemistry and Mathematics. I am planning to major in double Chemical Engineering and Spanish at North Carolina State University. After college, I may choose to attend graduate school, or join a research sector in one of the Chemical Industries.

During my sophomore year, I hope to study abroad so that I can fluently learn Spanish and get ahead on my degrees. Last year, I was able to perform research to maximize the efficiency of Fuel Cell membranes by use of ceramic membranes. My degree could place me into the energy, pharmaceutical, or plastics field.

When I was born, doctors told my parents that I was disabled, and would never reach the mental or physical capacities of my peers. Eighteen years later, my hobbies include Ultimate [frisbee], solving Rubik’s cubes, unicycling, and swimming competitively. There is nothing to be gained by giving up on life. Everyone experiences setbacks and failures, but success is when one can confront those hardships and remain optimistic and motivated.

My favorite community activity was working with a local Boy Scout Reservation as an instructor on the waterfront. My duty was to teach teenagers lifesaving techniques and swimming skills. Training others to become strong self-sufficient members of their world gives me a sense of pride. This is an opportunity to share what I have learned with many others.

Thank you Cleft Palate Foundation for providing this fund to help out those who have persevered beyond their challenges.

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Karissa Parker

From: Fort Myers, FL
Destination: Boston University

I am extremely honored to be a recipient of the Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship is an amazing gift that will allow me easier access to my future college education.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Karissa Parker
Karissa Parker

Throughout my life, my cleft lip and palate have posed challenges to me that I have been able to overcome with the help of many caring individuals, especially family and doctors. Although at times I regret the struggles I have had to face because of my cleft lip and palate, I am actually grateful that I experienced such hardship. My experiences have shaped my character throughout my entire life and made me the person that I am today. The struggles that I have overcome because of my cleft palate have taught me that limits do not exist. It is important to push the boundaries and be the best that you can be. Winston Churchill once stated that “success is never final,” and I completely agree with him. As long as we try, we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. Overall, my experiences have helped me to determine what I want my career to be.

Since my birth defect is a part of who I am, it has fueled a passion within me to learn everything about my condition, including what caused it and what can fix it. My long term goal is to earn a Ph.D. in a research field of biology. The research field I enter will most likely be genetics. I want to study the chromosomes linked to my birth defect and help find a cure so that this affliction can no longer affect humans. I hope I can influence and improve lives with what I learn in college.

I currently volunteer at the Southwest Florida Cleft Palate Support Group for children and their families with this condition. Volunteering with the support group has been an amazing experience for me because I have connected with so many people on so many levels. I have been able to share my experiences and give advice to people who need guidance on a mentally and emotionally intense journey.

When I’m not at school or volunteering, I love to read, listen to music, paint, and cook. I love nature and I often find myself exploring my environment and satisfying another of my favorite hobbies – photography. A future goal I hope to one day fulfill would be to travel the world; I love learning and experiencing different cultures. And you can bet I’ll be bringing my camera along.

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Karissa Parker
A sample of Karissa’s artwork.

Something I would love to do after I graduate from college is operate a Rottweiler Rescue. The first pet I ever had was a female Rottweiler named Kiara. Animals are amazing companions and friends who are always there and willing to listen. Kiara was a great part of my life; she was there for me throughout all of the challenges that I have had to face whether it was reconstructive surgeries or school stress. The experience I had with her has fueled an intense love for this amazing dog breed. I hope to one day manage a program that trains and certifies Rottweilers to become therapy dogs. The love these animals could give to people would be limitless.

I love living life. Thank you Cleft Palate Foundation for making life a little less stressful by providing this scholarship! I am truly honored. It means so much to represent an organization that works to improve the lives of those affected by a cleft lip and palate—people just like me!

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Laura Reinke

From: Stillwater, MN
Destination: University of Notre Dame

CPF 2010 College Scholarship Recipient, Laura Reinke
Laura Reinke

I am excited about receiving the Cleft Palate Foundation scholarship and will be using the money to help fund my chemical engineering studies. My career goal is to do environmental engineering work, possibly after further study in graduate school.

I’ve been very active in 4-H for the past 10 years, including holding leadership positions at the local, county and state level. Through 4-H I have had the chance to experience many new things, including one of my favorite hobbies, woodturning.

I have been very involved in community service throughout high school, working closely with nutrition education programs and other activities for at-risk youth for several years. I also served as president of our school’s National Honor Society and was a member of the Mahtomedi Service Partnership, a school organization focused on bettering the Mahtomedi area.

In addition to these community activities, I have been active in my school’s band, debate team, and drama club.

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Jorge Trinidad-Espinoza

From: Milwaukee, WI
Destination: University of Wisconsin – Madison

For a student who is financially challenged to pay for college, this scholarship brings me closer to fulfilling my academic goals. Without opportunities like this one, pursuing a professional career would be much more challenging.

I plan on majoring in political science in college. My goal is to prepare myself for a career in non-profit, more specifically organizations like Amnesty International or UNICEF that have an emphasis on raising global awareness.

I am very skeptical in my political views. I have been in involved in protesting U.S. foreign policy in Latin America by protesting and marching against the School of the Americas in Georgia. I enjoy reading authors like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Junot Diaz.

My favorite community activity is volunteering for Students United for Immigrant Rights. I am very passionate about politics and I enjoy advocating for immigration reform. To me it is critically important that that American society treat immigrants with the respect and dignity they deserve.