ACPA Family Services

2014 Recipients

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This year, thanks to the generous support of many donors, the Cleft Palate Foundation is pleased to offer a record 18 college scholarships!

CPF gratefully acknowledges the generous contributions made to the Peter Randall, MD/Don LaRossa, MD and Gip Seaver, PhD College Scholarship Funds. These special funds recognize the work of Dr. Peter Randall, Dr. Don LaRossa, and Dr. Earl “Gip” Seaver, all of whom have worked to enhance the quality of life for individuals affected by cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial birth defects. Each year, contributions made to these funds are responsible for covering the cost of at least two college scholarships.

Congratulations to each of the 2014 college scholarship recipients!

Whittney Chu

From: Warren, NJ
Attending: Carnegie Mellon University

Elana Colangelo

From: West Hartford, CTColangelo, Elana
The Ohio State University

I am honored to be a recipient of the Cleft Palate Foundation scholarship.  This scholarship will allow me to continue working toward my academic goals.  In the Fall, I will attend The Ohio State University where I will be a part of a leadership scholars society.  Although I will be far from my home in Connecticut, I hope to be as involved in my college as I was in my high school.  When I am not running varsity cross country and track and field, serving as a school ambassador, planning the school yearbook and literary magazine, or singing in three choirs, I enjoy volunteering in my community.  By building homes with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at a free camp for children in inner city Hartford, and fundraising for The Smile Train, I feel like I am paying forward all the hard work and kindness that my doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and the Boston Children’s Hospital bestowed upon me.

Anise Gagnon

From: Orlando, FL
Attending: Tallahassee Community College

Gagnon, Anise

I am deeply honored to be a 2014 Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship recipient. This award will help me reach my academic goal as I begin my freshman year at Tallahassee Community College. I plan to major in Fashion Retail Management and Product Development at Florida State University.

At age three, I was diagnosed with a sub-mucosal cleft palate. After surgery to repair my palate, Dr. Frank Steig invited me to become a patient with the Cleft Palate Clinic in Orlando, Florida. Here I met my wonderful team of doctors, speech therapists, orthodontists, and more who donated their valuable time and talents to this free Children’s Medical Service. Without the support and love of my family, teachers, and doctors throughout the years I would not be the person I am today and I appreciate everything each of them has done for me.

Having been bullied at a young age in school for my speech and learning differences, I had to overcome a great many insecurities. My self-confidence grew with my successes over the years. I worked hard in school and was recently inducted into both the National and Technical Honor Societies. I am the Captain for our Girls Varsity Swimming and Water Polo Teams.

It is important for me to return to my community the kind favors given to me by my church, school and family. My goal is to help young boys and girls overcome the oppression of bullies in their schools and neighborhoods, and to build self-reliance by finding their inner strength, beauty and personal talents. I am a volunteer/ intern the at the Maile Image, Modeling, and Acting school in Winter Park, Florida. I also sing and dance with the Orlando Gay Chorus. These organizations have given me the opportunity to help others express themselves and shine with their creative talents!

Like many of my friends, I am ready to move on to the next chapter in my life. I believe Florida State University will provide me with the best preparation for my career in the fashion industry and this scholarship will help support my undergraduate education. Although being born with a cleft palate has put me through many obstacles, it has made me a stronger and more compassionate young lady. Thank you again to the Cleft Palate Foundation for your generous gift.

Hailey Gardner

From: Blythewood, SC
Attending: Wofford College

Nathan Garran

From: Eastham, MA
Attending: University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth

View More: am so thankful to have been selected by the committee to receive this scholarship.  I was born with a bilateral cleft palate along with other birth defects.  I just want to thank Dr. John Mulliken and Dr. Bonnie Padwa, both of Children’s Hospital Boston, for all the surgeries they have performed on me so far in my 18 years.

I will be attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth starting this fall semester.  My plan is to major in accounting and after I graduate, I hope to sit for my Certified Public Accountant exam and then work alongside my father at his firm.

I am very active in my community.  I attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 2012.  This has definitely been, and probably will always be, my proudest achievements in my life.  I have joined the Provincetown Lions Club, which serves the local community in a variety of ways including raising money for eyesight research and hearing research in all of Massachusetts.  I am also a Mason from King Hiram’s Lodge in Provincetown.  We also work with our community, more especially with children.  I have also been involved with the Orleans Firebirds and the Cape Cod Baseball League.  I have worked with them since 2005.  I have made my way through the ranks as a bat boy and am now an intern, where I help with field work and I also run the scoreboard during the games. I honestly can’t just pick one of these as my favorite.  They all have held a special place in my heart since I first encountered them, and I just love giving back to my community.

Again, thank you to the scholarship committee for selecting me.  This will be a huge help in defraying my educational costs this year.

Sarah Garvin

From: Cortland, OH
Attending: University of Toledo

Garvin, SarahAs a graduating senior, I plan to attend the University of Toledo majoring in Pre-pharmacy through the 6-year PharmD program.  Throughout my primary education, I have been involved in Cheerleading the longest. Cheerleading helped me personally become more extroverted.  As a Sophmore in high school, I fell in love with tennis, and I plan to play tennis intramurally or club at UT. Outside of school, I have recently started Yoga and enjoy it because it gives a surprisingly rejuvenating feeling. Also, my favorite community service activity has been in the STAND (students together against nicotine and drug) program, where high school students mentor middle school students to teach about the dangers of tobacco. I have found through this program my enjoyment to teach others on how to better themselves.  I thoroughly believe this scholarship will give me the ability to join more clubs that otherwise I may have had to pay for, like club tennis or a sorority. Once again, I thank the scholarship committee for choosing me as a recipient. I am very grateful.

Kelsey Haggerty

From: Shoreham, NY
Attending: Suffolk County Community College

Haggerty, Kelsey

This scholarship means so much to me because school has never been easy for me. I have always had to work very hard and take advantage of extra support services to do well. To think that I earned this scholarship because of the Soft Palate surgery I had when I was 9 years old and my college grades makes it all worth it.

My present major is called Deaf Studies. After I earn my Associates Degree next semester, I will be transferring to Stony Brook University. I plan to major in Social Work with the goal of becoming a Child Life Specialist in a children’s hospital.

When I was 2 and then again when I was 3, I met Mother Theresa at a convent in the South Bronx. She met with my family, just so they could pray with her for my health. Being in the presence of a saint has blessed my life.

I volunteer some time each week at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. This is the highlight of my week. I find working with ill children very rewarding. I have met wonderful people through it.

My advice to others is to be brave. Fight for what you believe in and make your dreams your reality.


From: Lompoc, CA
Attending: Allan Hancock College

Hestand, LaurenI would like to thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for choosing me as a scholarship recipient. I feel very honored and thankful!  I was born with a cleft palate, which was an effect of Pierre Robin Malformation Sequence.  I have been faced with both speech and academic challenges, but a birth defect does not stop me from succeeding like anyone else.

Books are my addiction, I cannot get enough of them! I love to read book after book.  Since I’m book crazy, it would only make sense that I like creative writing. I enjoy attempting to write stories.  Along with reading and writing, I also enjoy volunteering in my church’s Children’s Ministry.  I enjoy my time with the Children’s Ministry staff and the events that we do together.

I plan to complete my general education and earn my A.S. in Recreation Management at community college.  Then I want to transfer to a four year University and major in a field such as Outdoor Leadership or Forestry. I plan to become a National Park Ranger. I cannot wait to begin my college education and start my journey to become a park ranger! Thank you to God, my family, and the Cleft Palate Foundation. I am truly honored and blessed.

Logan Jones

From: Simi Valley, CA
Attending: Moorpark College

Jones, Logan3Thank you very much for picking me as one of the first recipients for the scholarship for students having 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome also known as Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome.  I was born with 22q11.2, but nobody knew it until I was five years old.  By the time I was five, I was already in special education and speech classes and trying my best.  My parents have provided me with great support for many years making sure I had tutors and programs that would help me develop to the best of my ability.  Like most people with 22q11.2, my road has not been easy.  Now I am graduating Simi Valley High School with a high GPA and a diploma, and I am going on to Moorpark College to further my education.  I plan to take computer courses and general education courses.  Hopefully from there I will be able to go on to a university.  I would like to advance myself in the computer world and perhaps become educated enough to obtain a career in the computer gaming industry because I do like to play video games, especially sports oriented games.

I live to play sports!  I began playing soccer when I was five years old playing in one of our community recreation organizations.  I then went on to play club soccer from the age of 10 to 16 years old.  My club soccer years then overlapped with playing soccer for my high school teams as goalkeeper which I had a pretty good winning record.  In fact, I was awarded the Coach’s Award in my freshman year and that was quite an honor as only one player per team is given that award.  I even gave playing lacrosse a shot in high school.  I now play several sports with the Special Olympics such as basketball, softball, and soccer.  My soccer coach even appointed me the team captain after playing just one game with the soccer team.   I would like to become a Global Messenger with the Special Olympics in the future as I think it is important to play sports no matter what your disability might be and to promote acceptance.  I have definitely learned that you can just be yourself in the Special Olympics.  While I do not play baseball, one of my favorite things to do is to watch professional baseball, and I am a dedicated Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan.  I like to keep track of all the stats of the Dodgers’ players including the player trading process.

While I do not know how long it will take me to get a college degree, I will be as diligent in working towards this goal as I have been diligent in all my accomplishments so far.

Kristina Ladd

From: Ayer, MA
Attending: Rowan University

Ladd, KristinaThank you for your generous scholarship. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as one of the recipients of the CPF 2014 scholarships.

I am currently majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in Spanish and a concentration in honors at Rowan University in New Jersey. I am an active member of the Society of Women Engineers and we undertake many service projects. Recently we ran an introduction to engineering program for local high school girls and I was able to share my love of science and chemistry with younger girls and see them become enthusiastic about a possible future in STEM. I will be doing study abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain this summer and look forward to using my Spanish language and engineering skills for Rowan Engineers without Borders in the Dominican Republic. I am also participating in faculty research developing plastics without petroleum. My goal is to become a bilingual chemical engineer who travels the world.

Your generous scholarship will help give me the financial freedom to be able to focus on my studies. I am truly honored to receive this scholarship. Thank you to the Cleft Palate Foundation for all the wonderful work you do for kids like me and our families.

Claudia Lay

From: Carrollton, TX
The University of Texas at Austin

Lay, Claudia

While I was knitting the other day, my niece came up to me and asked me about my surgical scar from my cleft palate surgery. I was unsure of how to answer her. I tried to explain it to her, but she didn’t quite understand still. Then I showed her pictures online, and she said that I look beautiful. This meant the world to me, she probably doesn’t remember this, but my memory is good enough. It is all thanks to the wonderful doctors that were apart of my surgical team.

I am honored to receive the Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship. Being born with a unilateral cleft palate has influenced me more than I could ever expected. As child a spending much of my time in and out of Children’s Hospital, I really grew to love the hospital environment and I admired the doctors that spent so much time to help me. Ever since, I’ve wanted to become a doctor myself. While growing up, I have always been set on this goal, and it has driven me to be the best I could. This will never change. Then recently I discovered that I love working with young children, from working at a tutoring company, where I have the opportunity work with twice exceptional students. With this experience, I am now looking to be in pediatrics as I go through my education. I also am active in many clubs and organizations at my school including: orchestra, french, and academics which have taught me a lot about who I am and what I enjoy. In the coming months, I will be getting closer to my goal and be attending the University of Texas at Austin to major in Neuroscience and transfer to Biomedical Engineering after my first semester and I will use this as my undergraduate degree. Then I will continue my education in medical school.
My cleft palate has been a blessing in disguise, it exposed me to environment that has driven me since I was young. Many people spend years finding their passion, but I’ve been lucky enough to discover mine at a young age and been able to follow it.

Justin Marsee

From: Thompson Station, TN
Attending: Middle Tennessee State University

Marsee, JustinMy name is Justin Marsee and I am extremely honored to have received this scholarship. It was probably the greatest email I have received to this day. I could tell you so many things, but I feel the most appropriate thing for me to discuss here would be the plans for my hastily approaching future. I am going to attend the honors college at a post-secondary university and obtain my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. I plan to get my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry because I have taken AP Chemistry and AP Biology these last two years of high school, and I have been really intrigued, especially biology. To me, it is just phenomenal how all of the microscopic aspects of life work together. However, I knew I wanted to be a science major long before that. As evidenced by my receiving this scholarship, I was born with bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate and have since then gone on to undergo many medical operations, and it is because of the medical professionals I encountered that I aspire to become a Craniofacial Plastic Surgeon to, in a way, give back to those who have given me so much. This is what I feel my life calling is, to serve others, as Christ serves us. And again, thank you to the Foundation for awarding me this scholarship; God Bless!


From: Pasadena, MD
Attending: Villanova University

Renaldo, Antonio

Born with Pierre Robin Syndrome (a congenital condition including a small jaw and cleft palate), I endured numerous operations, speech lessons and hearing tests.  Overcoming the emotional and physical challenges of being born with a birth defect has led me to become a self confident leader.

At an early age, my parents encouraged me to use humor and personal experiences to help others. In ninth grade I was awarded my high school’s Presidential Leadership Scholarship based on my academic achievements and civic engagements.  Last year I was humbled with my school’s Good Samaritan Scholarship for my volunteer work with the homeless, habitat for humanity, and my leadership positions within my parish. I was also selected as team captain for both my JV and Varsity soccer teams.

Next fall, I will be attending Villanova University with the goal of receiving a bachelor’s degree of science in Biology with a minor in Bioengineering. While engaged in my studies I also plan to take advantage of nearby volunteer programs and service organizations. My goals in life do not stop in the classrooms; I want to continue to be active in helping and serving others. I hope to one day become a doctor and display the same compassion and dedication towards others that the Craniofacial team at Johns Hopkins showed me.

Cantley Roberts

From: Malvern, PA
Attending: University of South Carolina

Roberts, CantleyI am incredibly grateful to be a recipient of the Randall/LaRossa Scholarship and would like to thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for providing me with this wonderful award. I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and received treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia under the care of the late Dr. LaRossa.

I will be attending the Honors College at the University of South Carolina this fall, and although I am currently undeclared, I wish to pursue a career in the medical field. After graduating from college I plan on working with craniofacial patients and hope to show them that anything can be achieved with hard word and persistence.

In high school, I worked diligently to maintain good grades while also dancing at a local ballet company. I began dancing when I was two years old and have been dancing for sixteen years. I now perform in local, large scale productions including The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Dracula.

I would like to, again, thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for this award, but also my family and friends for their continued support, encouragement and acceptance. However, most importantly I would like to thank Dr. LaRossa, the man who shaped me into the person I am today, both physically and metaphorically. As a child, I never fully recognized the magnitude of what he has given to me, my family and to society. Now, I recognize the impact he has had on those who were graced by his presence.  Dr. LaRossa not only gave me the confidence to pursue great feats such as ballet and college, but he also gave that same confidence and reassurance to so many other children and their families.

Nicholas Rossi

From: New City, NY
Attending: Stevens Institute of Technology

Rossi, NicholasI am honored to be a recipient of the 2014 Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship. I was born with a bilateral complete cleft lip and palate and have been a patient at the NYU Medical Center Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery since infancy. What the doctors gave to help me is what I want to give to help others, and to do this I plan to pursue an engineering degree at the Stevens Institute of Technology. The orthodontists and surgeons at IRPS are at the forefront of innovation and technology as evidenced by my great outcome thus far. Being inspired by the doctors at NYU, I would like to design new devices to help those with congenital defects.

My passion outside of school is guitar playing.  As a lead guitarist in multiple bands, I have played at many benefit concerts supporting local farmer’s markets, the Relay for Life Cancer Walk, and various school functions.

Having a cleft lip and palate has never held me back in any way, and I know it will not stand in my way in the years to come. I plan on using this scholarship to support my future education in opening doors to careers and self-improvement. I will have a chance at pursuing my dreams, giving back to the community, and expanding my horizons all at the same time.

Rachel Sciabica

From: San Antonio, TX
Attending: San Antonio College

Chelsea Valenzuela

From: Delray Beach, FL
Attending: University of Florida

Valenzuela, ChelseaI would like to first sincerely thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for selecting me as one of their 2014 college scholarship recipients. This honor truly means a lot to myself as well as my family and no doubt will be helpful for dealing with some of the inevitable costs that come with attending college.

I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and despite the mental and physical challenges that came with them I feel as though it made me into a much stronger person, for which I am grateful.

I will be attending the University of Florida in the beginning of fall 2014 and I plan to major in biology and possibly minor or double major in urban planning.

I hope to one day become an accredited maxilo- facial or cranio-facial surgeon and work for an international medical non-profit organization such as Doctor’s Without Borders, Operation Smile, or The International Red Cross in order to help others born with this congenital anomaly.

Once again, thank you so much for this honor, it truly means a lot.

Haley Whitfield

From: Trophy Club, TX
Attending: The University of Alabama

Having been born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, I always knew that whatever I was going to do would involve directly helping the people around me, as I witnessed doctors and family helping me my entire life.  I am planning to study biochemistry and psychology.  While I don’t know the career path I will ultimately take, I know that these two subjects will give me a foundation in understanding people both physically and mentally which is the perfect way to begin to help them.

I was on the drumline and played percussion in the band all four years of high school.  I also lead worship in the praise band at my church.  Music is a huge part of my life.  I love playing music for myself and for others because I know the power that it has to influence and encourage people.

I am tremendously thankful for this scholarship from the Cleft Palate Foundation.  With their help, I am able to pursue higher education so that I can attempt to make an impact in this world.  I am ready to show people that they can overcome obstacles and achieve more than they ever thought possible.