February Student Spotlight: Melina Mazzie
Hi! My name is Melina Mazzie. I am from Bay Shore, New York and I will be a junior in the fall at Villanova University, majoring in Communication with a minor in Public Administration. I am writing to you to thank you for your donation to the Blue White Scholarship Foundation. As one of the recipients of the scholarship this year, I am so grateful for your generosity.
To help you understand why your donation means so much to me, it is important for you to understand a little more about myself and my journey.
When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with HypoPlastic MDS and I needed a bone marrow transplant to save my life. I was blessed in that one of my brothers was a perfect chromosomal match and he was able to be my donor. I had a successful transplant, spent an entire year in isolation, and missed all of 6th grade. I returned to school the following year and life was finally getting back to normal, when tragedy struck again. In 2012, I was rushed to the hospital the night of Hurricane Sandy where the doctors discovered I had a stroke. For the next few months, I had to undergo several tests and procedures, yet I continued to have more strokes. In 2013, I was diagnosed with another life threatening illness called CNS Vasculitis. More chemotherapy and other medications followed. I was terribly bullied about my appearance, all due to the medications that were keeping me alive. Today, I am 9 years post transplant, I've had a total of 5 strokes, and I take medications daily to keep me healthy.
My family and I never thought that I would be able to go away to college. When my doctor gave me the ‘green light’ during my senior year of high school, we were so happy, yet we were faced with a difficult reality. For the past 9 years, money that was supposed to go towards my college education was spent on my medical bills instead. My parents could not afford to send me to college, especially a school like Villanova. But they would never shut down my dreams and tell me no.
During my freshman year at Villanova, I received a sizeable grant. This gave my family some comfort and eased the financial burden. I was able to focus on starting fresh. For the first time in years, I was no longer ‘the sick girl.’ Instead, I focused on living a happy, healthy college life with my two brothers. However, once my brothers graduated in 2018, my grant significantly decreased. I began to realize I would have to start thinking of ways to help my parents pay for my college education. Now, as I enter my junior year, I am receiving no money from Villanova.
My brothers are my best friends and they are a big reason why I chose to go to Villanova. Knowing I would have my brothers there during my freshman year gave me the comfort of leaving home with my medical situation. It was hard to watch them graduate, but I knew they left me in good hands at Villanova.
Due to my health, I am limited in what I can do during the year to help pay for college. My daily medications affect my immune system and energy levels, making it difficult to get through a day of classes. Thus, I cannot get a job during the school year. I am constantly researching scholarships and I also work summer jobs to try and make up for this, however, my summer paychecks do not offset the cost entirely.
Unfortunately, my parents have already borrowed all the money they could and they are now using money that was supposed to go towards their retirement to help pay for my college education. I am immensely grateful for all that my parents do in order to send me to Villanova, however, they are giving up their future for me and I want to be able to give back.
Over the past year, I have gotten involved with SpO through another club that I am a part of, LEVEL. Both of these clubs help children with disabilities, and I enjoy devoting my time to them. I love giving back and helping other kids who are just like me.
With your help, I am able to ease the financial burden on my family. I am able to focus on my education and getting more involved at Villanova. I am able to continue devoting my time to clubs such as LEVEL and SpO throughout the school year.
Now that you know more about myself and where I come from, I want to say thank you. Thank you for giving to the Blue White Scholarship Foundation. Thank you for helping me to fulfill my dreams of going to college, despite the medical challenges I’ve faced.