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Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalists 2013

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenSeptember 26, 2013

A Place for Mom is proud to announce that we’ve narrowed down our Senior Care Innovation Scholarship finalists. Read the 12 finalists’ essays below to let us know who you think has the most compelling entry.

Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalists

Update: We’re happy to announce the winners of the Senior Care Innovation Scholarship:

  • Jennifer Heston
  • Katherine Kitchen
  • Peter Kim
  • William Weber
  • Emma Breault
Congratulations to each of you!

Scholarship Program Information:
According to the Administration on Aging, nearly a quarter of Americans will be age 65 or older by 2050, creating a substantial need for qualified workers in the senior care and living industry. Because of the impending need for qualified gerontological experts, Place for Mom decided to launch their first-ever scholarship program to aid in the training and education of future senior living industry leaders. And we received quite a response!

With more than 400 applicants and many impressive essays, our scholarship review committee has had a very difficult time choosing the finalists. Read the scholarship details and each applicant’s essay below and “Like” and comment on the pages of the five contestants you feel are most deserving of the $1,000 scholarships. Our judges are in charge of the final decision, but your comments may just sway their final votes.

Scholarship Details

The scholarship was open to anyone currently pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or graduate-level studies in the fields of gerontology, medicine, nursing, social work, sociology or related field. Applicants where asked to submit a letter of introduction with work history, their reasons for seeking a degree, and why they thought they were a good candidate for the scholarship.

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Additionally, all applicants were tasked with writing an essay that addressed solutions for the challenges America will face as more and more people age, commonly referred to as the Silver Tsunami:

“By 2025, the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 7.1 million – a 40 percent increase in the number of those currently affected.  How we prepare for America’s “Silver Tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers is of critical importance. What innovations in the senior care industry need to happen in order to care for our aging population? What contributions will you make to solving this problem?”

Top Finalists’ Background and Essays

Jennifer Heston

Jennifer’s entire career has been dedicated to the service of elders and their families. She has a master’s degree in social work from Ohio State University and recently decided to return to Miami University to pursue a PhD in social gerontology. The program is a full-time four-year commitment and she states that she is “thrilled to be back at her alma mater and to be working closely with the renowned Scripps Gerontology Center.”

While she is still very early in her studies, she has aspirations to conduct research that can be applied to improve the quality of life for elders and their care partners.  She is also interested in educating the next generation of elder care providers and helping to equip them for success in the rapidly-changing gerontological field.

Read Jennifer’s essay.

William Weber

William Weber is a first year medical student pursuing an MD/MPH dual degree at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He has been a volunteer in skilled nursing and retirement communities, has worked in Northwestern’s neurology department as a research assisted–and even worked with the Northwestern brain bank to obtain tissues from patients of Alzheimer’s disease for testing, has presented two posters and has an upcoming journal publication on gene expression in neurodegeneration.

William’s purpose for seeking an MD/MPH is to make him more effective, both as a clinical physician and policymaker; and he feels his medical degree is important because his passion is caring for patients in a clinical setting.

Read William’s essay.

Lindsay Hicks

Lindsay Hicks is a Neuroscience major on the Pre-Med track at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and her goal is to become a Neurosurgeon at St. Jude’s Hospital. 

Her junior year of high school she was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. While undergoing 72 hour brain scans, she says that she was often mistaken for a cancer patient and was subjected to stares and pity, which is why she “empathizes with the children at St. Jude’s.” She has learned to manage her disease with stress reduction as her neurologist taught her “that while I may have Tourette’s, it does not have me.”  She feels she can live her life without limitations and wants to provide that comfort to patients who are battling the ultimate opponent, Cancer.

Read Lindsay’s essay.

Morgan Beckwith

Morgan is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursing a 4-year degree in Life Sciences, Pre-Med, with aspirations to enter the field of medicine focusing on the geriatric population.  She also enjoys the arts and is very interested in combining both interests in her future medical profession.  She feels that art therapy for Alzheimer’s patients is a way to express feelings  and thoughts that may otherwise be silenced due to an inability to communicate with words.

Read Morgan’s essay.

Emma Breault

After overcoming physical and emotional hardships during her college years, largely due to receiving excellent nursing care, Emma discovered that her ultimate purpose was to provide similar nursing care to those who desperately need it. Her current work in the Bone Marrow Transplant Department at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has solidified this calling.

Her position as a Clinical Trials Specialist has allowed her to broaden her understanding of her role as a nurse, and to cultivate relationships with various medical providers. More importantly, she has been able to develop relationships with patients; both those who have had excellent responses to their treatment and those who ultimately lost their lives to cancer. She has learned that oncology is not always about “curing” patients, but rather about giving patients the best and longest life possible. Her goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner because she “wholeheartedly ascribes to a holistic approach to healthcare.”

Read Emma’s essay.

Lani Hashimoto-Raju

Lani is preparing to enter her first semester in the RN to BSN program at Azusa Pacific University.For the last 13 years, she has worked in the Case Coordination Center, for Kaiser Permanente.

Her future goals include earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing Education, and she is very interested in both patient and formal nursing education.

Read Lani’s essay.

Katherine Kitchen

Katherine is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Wyoming. Her desire to study psychology and become a mental health care professional began as a high school student, where participating in a work experience program in a nursing home sparked her passion for working with older adults. 

In her future career, she plans to engage in research where she will investigate access to specialty (geriatric) rural mental health services and develop and disseminate evidenced-based interventions for rural, older adults involving community gatekeepers and information technology. She is also excited about providing mental health services to older adults, in addition to training and education in geriatrics to future generations of health practitioners.

Read Katherine’s essay.

Peter Kim

Peter is a first-year medical student at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Before medical school, he worked as a rehabilitation technician at Provena Hospital working with elderly patients recovering from orthopedic surgeries, stroke, heart attack, and other various neurological diseases. He assisted them with daily needs and physical therapy.

His decision to pursue medicine was due to many experiences, the earliest with his father, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer when Peter was 5 years old. As a result, his family was in and out of the hospital for treatments 10 years. However, in the end, the treatments were successful and Peter’s father is alive and well today. It is the experiences he had with father and the rewarding work he was able to do in the hospital that inspired him to become a doctor.

Peter is currently seeking funding for the research project he has started this year involving music therapy and patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia, all explained in his essay.

Margaret Halloran

Margaret is a nursing student at Trinity Washington University. In addition to working full time in a genetics laboratory at the Smithsonian Institution she is pursuing a career in nursing, in part, because of the “Silver Tsunami” that A Place for Mom focused on within the essay question.  She knows the United States has an increasing need for healthcare providers as the American population ages, and as an individual with a background in research science, she is interested in applying the education and research skills she has attained to innovate patient care by exploring new ideas, ideally to keep the aging population healthy, safe and happy within their home.

Read Margaret’s essay.

Stefani Propper

Stefani is a Registered Nurse currently enrolled at Adelphi University in a Masters of the Science of Nursing Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner program. She started her journey as a RN in 2007 when she began working at Good Samaritan Hospital on a medical-surgical geriatric unit. It was working on this unit that she developed her love for the geriatric population. Each day she left work with a feeling of inner satisfaction knowing that she had positively affected the lives of not only her patients, but their family members, as well. From this point on she knew she wanted to advance her knowledge and someday develop her career to the level of Nurse Practitioner. 

Read Stefani’s essay.

Sandra Little

Sandra is currently earning her Masters of Science in Gerontology from Concordia University.  She recently moved back to the mid-west after living in Los Angeles for twenty years and found she was craving a slower, gentler culture as she approached middle-age. Sandra has a passion for working with seniors  and is very excited to pursue a gerontological career and help Aging America. She would appreciate a “helping hand” while she works towards the last and most meaningful career of her life.

Read Sandra’s essay.

Elizabeth Nelms

Elizabeth is a graduate student in the Human Ecology program at Kansas State University. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Gerontology, for which she has maintained a cumulative 4.0 GPA, and will graduate in the spring of 2014. She has also been selected as a student researcher in a national study entitled: Aging in Place in Rural Areas: A Focus on Support Needs, Caregiving Decisions, and Well-being.

Elizabeth decided to dedicate her life to the field of gerontology to continue the work of her grandparents. Her grandparents volunteered at a local nursing home and for Meals on Wheels her entire life, and she began volunteering with them at age 3. She believes that her graduate degree, coupled with work and volunteer experiences, has instilled in her both the acumen for working in the field of gerontology, as well as the interpersonal skills needed to cooperate and effectively assist older adults and their caregivers.

Read Elizabeth’s essay.

Dana Larsen
Dana Larsen
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