ACPA Family Services

2015 Recipients

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2015 college scholarship recipients!

Thanks to generous donor support, we are pleased to award
17 college scholarships this year.

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.

Get to know our CPF Scholars:
Nicholas Beaver

From: Canton, OH
Attending: Walsh University

I first wish to express my sincere gratitude towards the Cleft Palate Foundation for selecting me as one of their scholarship recipients.  I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate as well as several other facial deformities.  Since then, the Foundation as well as the kind doctors, nurses, and staff members at Akron Children’s Hospital have been with me every step of the way during the course of my treatment.  This honor serves as a continuation of the guidance and assistance that has been offered to me for the 18 years of my life and will be instrumental in setting me of my path to College.

Beaver, Nick photoIn the fall of 2015 I plan to attend Walsh University to study English and Communications and pursue my love of writing and language.  I hope to channel these interests into a career as a technical writer.

I played the bass drum in the marching band for four years and participated in the Academic Challenge team, National Honors Society, and Speech and Debate team.  Outside of school I enjoy writing, reading, and playing/creating strategy board games.  I love nature and frequently enjoy hikes as well as trips to zoos and wilderness centers.  My greatest accomplishment thus far has been my participation in National History Day, where my team received an Honorable Mention at the state level.

This year at graduation I addressed the entirety of my senior class and delivered my senior farewell for all in attendance.  It is because of the efforts and care provided by a team of extremely altruistic doctors that I now have the assurance and ability to express my thoughts clearly and confidently.  I would like to again thank the scholarship committee for my selection and for helping me continue my journey. 

Emma Brockway

From: League City, TX
Attending: Texas State University
Brockway, Emma photo
I am unbelievably honored to be a recipient of the Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship is an inspiration to me and will further motivate me to succeed during college and after college. It will provide an additional stepping-stone to my college triumph. By awarding me with this scholarship, the Cleft Palate Foundation has not only helped me in a fiscal sense but has also changed my college experience by putting faith in me on my college journey.

I am currently an English major at Texas State University. My goal after graduating from Texas State is to attend law school and eventually practice family law. I have always enjoyed helping others and I believe that being a family lawyer will allow me to do just that. One unusual hobby I have is learning about real estate. I am currently working on real estate classes to obtain my real estate license. My favorite hobbies include playing guitar, cello, and violin. In addition to having a passion for music, I absolutely love traveling, hiking, golfing, and attending concerts. As far back as I can remember, I have been incredibly involved with the community in my hometown and I continued this pattern by staying active in the San Marcos community during my first year of college. I participated in some of the city’s annual events such as Bobcat Build 2015 and the annual Texas River Cleanup to improve San Marcos. My first year of college was wonderful and I became heavily involved in various political organizations as well as Hall Council. My first year at Texas State I had the honor of making Dean’s List, ending the year with a 3.8 GPA.

Having a cleft palate has been the most challenging thing in my life but I do not wish for a second that I had been born without one. My parents and best friends have helped me overcome the myriad of surgeries and the effects of each of those surgeries. My cleft lip and cleft palate do not define me but they have contributed to the best parts of who I am today. I currently manage an Instagram account called @cleftcommunity, which allows different people with cleft lips and/or cleft palates all over the world to connect. It has given me immense joy to see the many different people find others who have exceptionally similar stories to them.

Thank you so much for believing in my potential by awarding me this scholarship!

Savanna Cooley

From: Newton, AL
Attending: Wallace Community College
Cooley, Savanna photo_crop

When I received word that I had received the Cleft Palate Foundation Scholarship I immediately felt blessed. I found the scholarship online and thought, “It would not hurt to try.”  This scholarship will help provide me funds for nursing school. I chose nursing school because I felt as if I could relate with children in the hospital. I wanted to give back a little bit of what has so graciously been given to me.  As I graduate and start my freshman year of college I hope to embark on a fantastic journey.  I hope to attend Wallace Community College and become a Registered Nurse.  I would love to later return to school and become a Nurse Practitioner.  I have had numerous doctors and nurses that have gone above and beyond for me.  I think if I become a nurse I could show the patients the same amount of love and happiness.  In my free time I enjoy doing many things. I do not stay home for long.  During high school I enjoyed playing soccer.  I am also a lifeguard.  I love being at the pool during the summer and getting to hang out with the members.  In my community, we have a summer camp called WIRED.  At WIRED we would be split into several different groups. I was privileged to go to the Boys and Girls Club.  There I was able to play with children from very diverse backgrounds. This experience was one that I will always cherish and never forget.

Carl Cusack

From: Glenmont, NY
Attending: Cornell University

Cusack, Carl photo_cropI am extremely grateful for the generosity and support of the Cleft Palate foundation and its donors for helping me achieve my academic goals. Next year I will be attending Cornell University. Within Cornell, I will be a student in the Dyson school of Applied Economics and Management. I have always had a passion for economics and the stock market. As the president of our school’s stock market club I teach stock market concepts to members and run our club’s competitive stock market simulation. This past year I was captain of our school’s hockey team, competed in a monetary policy making competition known as “Fed Challenge”, and had the chance to help coach a hockey team for young mentally disabled players called the Albany Cougars. At a young age my cleft lip was expertly repaired by Dr. John Muliken. Being born with a cleft lip illustrated the helplessness of one to control the circumstances surrounding one’s birth to me. This knowledge humbles me and guides me to help others born under less than ideal circumstances. At Cornell I hope to concentrate on international trade and development, studying global economic inequality and ways to eliminate poverty as much as possible. I would like to thank the Foundation again for assisting me in my academic journey.

Sarah Dorsey

From: Blythewood, SC
Attending: Clemson University

George Exarchakis

From: Monroe Twp, NJ
Attending:  The College of New Jersey
Exarchakis, George photo_crop
I am truly honored to have been selected as one of the recipients of the Cleft Palate Foundations 2015 scholarship.  This scholarship helps reduce my tuition but I also see it as an acknowledgement that teens like myself have always had to try a little harder while in school. We have always had to deal with making up classwork due to the multitude of doctor’s appointments we have to deal with. The severity of my cleft necessitated numerous surgical procedures, intense orthodontic manipulations, and years of speech therapy.  Personally, I missed a considerable amount of time from school and was restricted from participating in full contact sports when I was younger.  My experiences have taught me how to manage my time wisely and to always push myself harder.  I am proud that I maintained a competitive GPA in honors classes, while on the wrestling team and being highly active in my church’s youth program. The delay in my wrestling career, due to my medical conditions, drove me to try even harder during practice, culminating in becoming a JV captain and varsity wrestler my junior and senior years.

Working in the field of medicine has always been an ambition of mine.  Being born with a congenital birth defect, I have spent countless hours around doctors and nurses.  In my opinion, there are very few jobs where the people are as passionate. Their work has had a tremendous impact on not just me, but my whole extended family. This fall I will be attending The College of New Jersey in pursuit of a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Thank you again for your generous award and your acknowledgement.  I am very appreciative of it.

Lucas Fiebig

From: Bellevue, WA
Attending: University of Washington
Fiebig, Lucas photo

My name is Lucas Fiebig and I am so honored to be chosen as one of the CPF’s scholarship recipients. I will be attending the University of Washington in Seattle next year.  I have a cranio-facial condition called Goldenhar’s Syndrome and am hearing impaired.  These scholarship funds will go straight into my college fund to help make my dreams a reality.  I plan to major in biochemistry and one day be accepted to medical school so that I can go on to become a pediatric anesthesiologist. One of my favorite activities to do outside of school is to go up to the mountains to ski in the winter and go down to the lake to wakeboard in the summer; both of which I hope to continue enjoying while attending school at the UW. One of my favorite community activities has been volunteering for the local middle school as a 6th grade camp counselor as I really enjoy working with children.  One thing that has helped me get to where I am today is my dedication to the fact that challenges with my disability have done nothing but strengthen my character and driven me to succeed in life. I hope that people can share my confidence so that they too can follow their dreams and go after what they want to do with their lives.

Katherine Gramling

From: Warner Robbins, GA
Attending: University of Minnesota- Twin Cities

Gramling, Katherine photoI would like to sincerely thank the Cleft Palate Foundation for their generosity in awarding me a scholarship. It will be very useful as I plan to pursue Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, roughly 1200 miles from my home! I was born with a bilateral U-shaped cleft palate and was missing 95% of my soft palate. Luckily, I had an amazing surgeon and through two surgeries and various dental work, most can’t even tell there was anything different. Throughout high school I was a competitive swimmer and was part of National Honors Society. Outside of school, I have worked at a movie theatre for over two years now. I am quite excited to move away and undergo the academic stimulation I will receive at University. Therefore this scholarship will be very helpful in covering out-of-state costs. Thank you once again.

Stephen Juliff

From: New Orleans, LA
Attending:  University of New Orleans
Juliff, Steve photo
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to receive this award, and I’m humbled by the generosity of the Cleft Palate Foundation to continue to help those with cleft and craniofacial imperfections. I was born with a cleft lip and palate, and have had numerous surgeries and braces for more than nine years to repair this imperfection. My parents, my brother Mike, and other family members have helped me overcome this obstacle in life. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and am very proud of my hometown and everything associated with it. Growing up, I loved sports and was always outside running around. I also love my brother, Mike, and I was always trying to be just like him. I listened to the same music, played the same sports, played the same video games, and took up playing instruments just like Mike did.

When I was 10 years old, I found my passion for film. I began making films with my two cousins and my brother.  Our company is JRMS Film Corporation, and we have completed 8 films in total over the past 11 years. From these experiences rose my dream to become a Hollywood editor. I chose to attend the University of New Orleans to pursue a degree in film. I became heavily involved on the UNO campus from the very start including: founding the UNO Table Tennis Club, becoming an Orientation Leader, working at the Fitness Center, becoming a Resident Assistant, playing intramural sports, and becoming a Founding Father of Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity. When I’m not working or attending classes, I enjoy hanging out with my best friend Hannah, playing electric bass, working out, playing sports, going on road adventures, longboarding, watching hockey, and playing video games.

I have accomplished a lot in my life at such a young age, but I would never be the man that I am today without the love and support of my family, friends, and the team of doctors at Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. Someday, I hope that I can have the same impact on someone else’s life that they have had on mine.

TraMi Ly

From: Springfield, VA
Attending: Virginia Tech

This scholarship means a lot to me and my family. Receiving this scholarship changed my mindset. I academically pushed myself because I always felt like I was “that” kid with the cleft lip/palate. I let my cleft lip/palate define who I was, but receiving this award meant that I was so much more than who I thought I was. It proved that my hard work in school had good results. I think that this scholarship will affect my college experience because I plan on joining clubs like Operation Smile at Virginia Tech to help children with the similar medical conditions.

I am planning to study architecture in college. After college my goal is to build a hospital that reduces stress for patients so that they can stay in a vivider place while trying to recover.

My favorite hobby is to do DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects. I love trying to learn new things. I also love to bake or learn new recipes in my free time!  I started to volunteer at a local hospital and this is one of my favorite community activities. I really like this community service because I get to experience what if slightly feels like to be a doctor or nurse. Volunteering at the hospital has taught me so many lessons that I can apply to real life. I’ve learned how to become open-minded, learned how to communicate better, and how to be patient. Overall, the hospital experience is a close glimpse of what reality is, so this helped me better understand and mature myself.

Don’t let your obstacles define you, let your determination and motivation lead you to success.

Caitlin Moore

From: LaGrange, GA
Attending: Young Harris College
Moore, Caitlin photo_crop
I am very thankful and honored to be chosen as a 2015 recipient of the Cleft Palate Foundation College Scholarship.  This will help further my education and goals.

At age five I was diagnosed with 22q11.2 (also known as Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome) and underwent surgery at age six to correct my soft palate dysfunction.  I had several years of speech therapy that helped correct the pre-surgery deficiencies.

I will be attending Young Harris College (Georgia) and plan to study music.  I envision being a collaborative pianist for professional soloists and groups.  Since beginning piano at age 5, I have continued playing and performing for many venues and groups.  In addition, I have played on drumline in marching band, as well as playing marimba for concert band throughout high school.  I also had leadership roles in band.  I was an active member of my high school Future Business Leaders of America club and competed in regional competition for our chapter.

I regularly accompany a local children’s choir.  Working with the kids has been fun, but also challenging (at times) to keep them focused!

Thank you again for your generous contribution to my future!

Shannon Muzio

From: Fresno, CA
Attending:  California State University of Fresno

I am so honored to be a recipient of this scholarship. This will greatly help me along my path to becoming an audiologist. I dream to one day help deaf children like me, in the same ways my audiologists have greatly benefited my life. It means so much to me that the CPF Scholarship Committee is willing to invest in my future, and for that I am grateful. College is expensive, so this scholarship will help me with my financial burden. I look forward to my future. Thank you to the scholarship committee for selecting to support me.

Natasha Orlando Figueiredo

From: New City, NY
Attending: Brown UniversityFigueiredo, Natasha photo_crop

I am deeply grateful to the Cleft Palate Foundation for honoring me with this incredibly generous scholarship. This past year has been rewarding, yet difficult in many respects. The college process is challenging enough, but when you add two back-to-back surgeries for bilateral cleft lip and palate repair on top of it all, it can get a bit overwhelming. But thanks to organizations like CPF, the incredible doctors at NYU Medical Center who have treated me for the past 18 years, and my wonderfully supportive family, I am reminded to be proud of who I am, even when it may be difficult.

In the fall I will be attending Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and I plan to double major in art history and math. These subjects are my greatest passions in the academic world, but I am also extremely eager to join clubs on campus that are geared towards my other biggest passion: activism. I consider myself an advocate for several different underrepresented communities, the cleft lip/palate community included, and I hope to continue this activism in both my campus life and career.

Thank you again to the Cleft Palate Foundation!

Kiana Raines

From: Pikeville, KY
Attending: Eastern Kentucky University

Aubreye Reddell

From: Katy, TX
Attending: Texas A&M University

I am so grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the 2015 Cleft Palate Foundation scholarship.  This will help with the finances it will take to attend the college of my dreams.  I will be studying Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University in the Fall.Reddell, Aubrey photo_crop

I can only think that this opportunity would not have been possible without my family, teachers, and doctors who have always been there to support and encourage me.  Being born with cleft palate and being diagnosed with Pierre Robin Syndrome has not once stopped me from chasing my dreams.  It is so important for me to return to my community the kind favors given to me by my church, doctors, and family.  One of my favorite volunteer opportunities that I have participated in during the last few years was the Annual Color Run held at my high school where all the proceeds benefit Operation Smile.  I have been blessed enough to have the surgery needed to fix my cleft palate and want to help others who are not as fortunate.

In addition to giving back to my community, I have always been very active in my church and played Varsity Volleyball for my high school where I was elected Captain of the team my senior year.

I am looking forward to stepping into the college life.  Thank you again for selecting me as a scholarship recipient.

Erin Rodenroth

From: Macon, GA
Attending: Georgia Institute of Technology
Rodenroth, Erin photo
I’m very thankful for receiving this scholarship as I’m now a part a select group of students that are just like me. I was born with Goldenhar’s Syndrome as well as other medical issues including a Ventricular Septal Defect and Situs Inversus Totalis. I will be attending Georgia Institute of Technology to study Computational Media in hopes of developing video games as part of a game development company.

Throughout high school I’ve been involved in many things including Future Business Leaders of America, the school and chamber orchestra, dancing, robotics and more. I play piano, ukulele, cello, and guitar despite being hearing impaired. As part of my school’s orchestra, we’ve played from homeless shelters to Disney World which has been an amazing experience for the past 4 years. I also have been taking ballet, tap, and hip hop classes since I was 3 years old.

I love being involved with my community as well. I received my Gold Award in Girl Scouts in 11th grade by painting sidewalks at a local elementary school to promote exercise after the physical education was cut back to almost non-existent. I’ve also spent a lot of time volunteering with the local Special Olympics sailing group as special needs children/adults have a special place in my heart.

I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me next as I move to Atlanta, Georgia for college. Thanks to the Cleft Palate Foundation, I will be able to achieve my goals and aspirations with just a little less financial stress as I pay for college.

Jessica Roesler

From: Casselton, ND
Attending: North Dakota State University
Roesler, Jessica photo
My name is Jessica Roesler and I am honored to be a 2015 scholarship recipient. I am extremely grateful and want to thank the Cleft Palate Foundation. I was born with a Stage IV bilateral cleft lip and palate. Throughout numerous surgeries, I have had the support of family, friends and doctors. My parents, Troy and Nikkol, and brother, Josh, have been my constant. They have been by my side providing care and emotional support. My friends have accepted me for who I am and have allowed me to grow, while my doctors have provided care, knowledge and skill to transform my “smile.” I would like to thank Dr. Charles Crago, DMD, MD at Face and Jaw Surgery Center of Fargo, ND, Dr. Donald Lamb, MD at Lamb Plastic Surgery of Fargo, ND, Dr. Ryan West, DDS, at West Orthodontics of Fargo, ND and Dr. Jesse Hagen, DDS, at Hagen Dental of Casselton, ND for their incredible care.

This scholarship will assist me to attain my future academic goals. My goals for the future evolved as I dealt with many unpredictable health challenges. I learned quickly that I could not control everything in my life, but I could control my academics and education. My dedication to studying and achieving in academics is the foundation for my future goals. I plan to attend North Dakota State University and pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. While spending countless hours in the medical community, I have admired several nurses in my life. I want to become a compassionate, fun-loving nurse who will have a positive impact on people by recognizing and respecting their needs. Ultimately, my plans are to become a well-educated, independent person who can contribute to her family, friends, career and community.

I have been fortunate to have a strong support system and to have been successful in and out of the classroom. I have enjoyed competing in basketball and softball, sewing, and babysitting. I had the honor of being Valedictorian of my senior class and was the starting catcher on my high school softball team which recently won the 2015 ND State Class B Championship. My relationships in these activities have been a key to my success. Growing up with a cleft lip and palate has had many obstacles, but dealing with these challenges provided me with the foundation to succeed. The journey of my cleft has shaped my life and made me the person I am today.