The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation was pleased to be able to continue its annual scholarship program in 2019 to support students affected by Rheumatoid Disease. This year, we awarded five $1,000 scholarships to students who either have RD themselves or who have a parent with RD. We'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who applied for our Scholarship Program. We received many wonderful essays and applications. Our judging panel has chosen our five winners this year, and we'd like to introduce each of them to you. Please join us in congratulating these five individuals as they continue their educational pursuits!
Rachel Mershon (Corona, CA)
As a child, Rachel was determined to become a professional chef and spent countless hours perfecting her techniques. Her wish lists included kitchen tools and gadgets rather than more age appropriate toys. When Rachel began high school, her world changed. Her fingers began visibly deforming and at times, and she had difficulty walking due to painful feet, knees, and hips. Eventually, Rachel was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Arthritis had already affected her ability to work with her hands, and as a 14-year-old, the threat of disability weighed heavily. Confused and uncertain, she found refuge in volunteer activities. Rather than sink into self-pity, Rachel held her head high, focused externally, and logged more than 2,900 service hours, much of it focused on improving the lives of those living with RA.
Consequently, the life-altering challenge presented by RA has completely changed her outlook. Rachel is now determined to combine the tremendous satisfaction she receives from her service activities and her love of cooking to create unique opportunities with a degree in Nutrition. Rachel wants to give people hope after a serious diagnosis whether it’s diabetes, an autoimmune condition, or cancer by helping patients use diet, in complement with traditional therapy, to manage or prevent chronic illness. Rachel believes that every individual is in the driver’s seat throughout the journey of their disease and her mission is to provide resources and reassurance, empowering them to take control and live longer, healthier lives.
Kendra Richardson (Warner Robins, GA)
My name is Kendra Richardson, and I am from Thomaston, GA. I received my Bachelor of Science in nursing from Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA. I work as a public health registered nurse and am currently pursing my Masters to become a family nurse practitioner at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. My goal is to ultimately specialize in rheumatology. This area is very special to me as I was diagnosed with a rheumatoid disease in 2016, and I would love to contribute to the world of rheumatology. Outside of my career, I enjoy traveling, exploring new foods, and spending time with family and friends.
Trianne Harabedian (Fresno, CA)
Trianne Harabedian is a California native with a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University. She stayed in Jackson, MS for two years after completing her degree to work at Lemuria Books as the Children's Section Manager. Now she is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry Emphasis, at San Francisco State University. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago, right during the transition from full-time student to full-time employment. While it has been incredibly difficult, she is thankful for the strong community it has given her.
Grayson Johns (Birmingham, AL)
Grayson is from Florence, Alabama, and he was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was eight years old. Grayson attends Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where he studies Musical Theatre. He hopes to one day teach Musical Theatre and be an encouragement to those of his students who also have disabilities.
A special thank you to our sponsor, Myriad Autoimmune, for making this program possible!
Myriad Autoimmune is passionate about impacting patient lives for the better. We are committed to providing actionable information with our molecular blood test, Vectra, to guide medical management decisions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and improve patient outcomes. Vectra is a validated objective measure that combines 12 biomarkers, age, gender and adiposity to provide a personalized score of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. For more information on Vectra, please visit: www.vectrada.com.