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I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for have being selected as a recipient of the Fall 2014 Audrey B. Mastroianni Scholarship.  This scholarship will help me to finance my nursing education at Drexel University. I would like to thank the very generous donors who have made this possible. I promise to honor both my mother’s memory and Audrey Mastroianni by studying hard and, ultimately helping others while working in my chosen profession.

My mother was diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer during my freshman year of high school. At that time she was tested for the BRCA gene mutation and found out that she was a carrier. My grandmother, aunt, and cousin all tested positive as well. The impact of my mother’s diagnosis and the risk that my closest relatives (and possibly I) faced was devastating to my entire family. During that period of time, I do not recall a day when I was not visiting someone in the hospital, as my relatives were undergoing prophylactic mastectomies and oophorectomies and my mother was undergoing surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and suffered from numerous complications. This situation was devastating both emotionally and financially, as my mother was a single mom and was unable to continue working as her cancer had metastasized. My grandparents and aunt shared the responsibility of caring for me and my mother. After a great deal of suffering, my mother passed away in May of 2011 and my aunt and uncle assumed legal guardianship for me as my father and I had been estranged during my mother’s illness.

Because I have had the love and support of my family throughout this ordeal, I am currently attending  Drexel University, where I am studying nursing in honor of my mother’s courageous battle with breast cancer.