2018 Scholarship Winners:
Nicholas DeMarco

Having a heart defect did not curtail Nicholas from following his passion for baseball. Although he was unable to compete at the high school varsity level, Nicholas enjoyed playing with a local club team throughout high school. In the future, he hopes to make a difference in the lives of children and families with a CHD. Nicholas is full of potential and drive which will serve him well as he attends Sacred Heart University in the fall of 2018.

Jenna Miller

Jenna has a huge appreciation for the medical staff that has cared for her over the years, and as a result, will be attending the nursing program at Widener University in the fall of 2018. She aspires to provide not just medical care — but hope and inspiration to her future patients. Jenna has been incredibly involved in her school and home community, as well as holding a part-time job. She balances her many commitments with ease and grace.

JonMikal Sepero

Helping people is something that comes naturally to JonMikal, whether it was in the classroom or as an EMT volunteer where he has served over 100 hours in the local community. He has participated in the CHD Coalition’s Annual Walk to help raise awareness and funds for research. JonMikal is self-motivated and has excellent leadership abilities. These are traits that will serve him well as he attends Montclair State University in the fall of 2018.

 

2017 Scholarship Winners:
Karolina Koziol Karolina Koziol

Although Karolina does not remember her open heart surgery performed at 8 months old, she has the scars to remind her that she is a CHD warrior. Since the age of seven Karolina has attended Hope With Heart camp and it was here that she felt both safe and comforted; it was because of this experience that she gained the confidence that she exudes today. Karolina now looks forward to being a counselor and giving back to younger CHD warriors in the ways that she received support for over 10 years at camp. She is passionate about spreading awareness for CHDs and supporting those affected with a congenital heart defect including volunteering at the Annual CHD Coalition Awareness Walk.

Karolina is fluent in Polish and has a great love for dance. She sets high standards for herself and achieves them, as demonstrated by placement on both Honor Roll and President’s List at her high school. We wish Karolina all the best as she attends Montclair State University in the fall of 2017.

Emily Wrzos Emily Wrzos

Emily, born with aortic stenosis, underwent two heart surgeries by the age of seven — the latter to replace a heart valve. She states that her heart condition shapes who she is today including her very positive outlook on life. For over 10 years, Emily has eagerly volunteered at the National Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day at Morristown Medical Center. She has also attended and volunteered at the Annual CHD Coalition Awareness Walk, and she is a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation. Emily is described as “genuinely caring and someone who wants to make a positive impact wherever she can.”

Emily loves volleyball and writing. She plans to study genetics and hopes to pursue a career in the medical field. We wish her all the best as she attends Rutgers University in the fall of 2017.

 

2016 Scholarship Winners:
Travis Howie Travis Howie

Travis Howie was born March, 1998 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. With a passion for sports Travis understands his physical limitations and has channeled this passion into volunteer activities related to sports in his community and school. Most recently, he gladly accepted the role of Team Manager of the high school varsity baseball team and was thrilled to support the team and coach. Although he has daily reminders of his defect with medications and his scar, Travis says “…it does not stop me; it does not define me either.”

Travis is a young man with strong character and an inspiration to others. He has a passion for nature and the outdoors and has been involved in Future Farmers of America, the school Yearbook and is in the National Honor Society. He is described as someone who brings joy to others and is just “plain likeable.” He will be attending Sussex County Community college in the fall.

Mike Moroski Mike Moroski

Michael Moroski was diagnosed with several different congenital heart defects in July, 1998. Faced with physical limitations and developmental delays, he has overcome many challenges. According to Michael, he was “determined to have a successful school and life experience. And I did just that!” He has made an impactful contribution by combining his passion for film production and his love of sports. As Team Manager of the high school baseball team, Michael filmed players to help them with their dreams beyond high school in hopes that they can get their own scholarships. Check out the documentary that he produced about his heart condition at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGGFulQHnoM!

Michael was an active and proud participant in several school clubs and has been inducted into the National Honor Society. Volunteer activities outside of school include Special Olympics and a challenger basketball program that assists children with special needs. With a passion for the discipline and art of Karate, Michael trained in non contact Karate since the age of 3 and recently earned his fourth degree black belt. “My health issues may dictate what I do, but I will not allow them to dictate who I am,” says Michael. We wish him all the best this fall as he attends Rowan University.

 

2015 Scholarship Winners:
Katelyn Farrell Katelyn Farrell

Katelyn Farrell has never kept her heart defect a secret. Rather, she “embraces it and uses it to help others” deciding to share her story to spread awareness. Described as a kind, compassionate and enthusiastic individual she gives back to the community in many ways. Katelyn is an avid participant in volunteer activities including Operation Goody Bag, Community Blood Drives and the Annual CHD Coalition Awareness Walk.

Katelyn had been active in school plays and musicals where her enthusiasm and dedication made her both a key contributor and mentor for younger performers. She enriches the lives of those around her which will serve her well as she pursues a career in Social Work. She recently graduated from Paramus High School and will be attending Ramapo College in the fall. We wish her all the best as she continues to make the world a better place.

Olivia Seeney Olivia Seeney

Mature and compassionate, with a love of volunteering, Olivia Seeney has contributed to the community helping both the young and old. She volunteered at an Assisted Living Facility, Meals on Wheels, Vacation Bible School and organized volunteers for a Clean Communities Program.

Olivia is grateful for the support and encouragement of her family who have instilled a love of learning. Having been told by a doctor to expect that Olivia would have learning delays, she has found that the challenges she faces due to her CHD makes her even more ambitious – and she set lofty academic goals. Olivia took on aggressive coursework where she recently not only graduated from Salem County Vocational and Technical High School but also earned her Associate’s degree from Salem Community College. We wish her all the best as she sets off to Regent University in Virginia this coming fall.

 

2014 Scholarship Winners:
Melissa Melissa Frank

Melissa Frank was born in January 1992 with several heart complications (Sub Aortic Stenosis, Mitral Valve Stenosis, VSD, Coarctation of the Aorta, and Heart Block). By the time she was 6 years old, she was living with a pacemaker and realized she had some unique challenges compared to her friends. Although her heart condition prevented her from playing basketball at a competitive level, she has continued to be a basketball enthusiast and an active part of the sport as a trained referee. Melissa faces challenges, uncertainty, and even fear, head on. She has a positive attitude and “strives to be a living example that a medical misfortune can only dictate your life if you allow it to.”

Melissa is bright, motivated, and very involved in community activities. She recently graduated from Randolph High School in New Jersey and will be attending Quinnipiac University in the fall. We wish her all the best as she pursues a career in medical rehabilitation.

Marisa Marissa Mendoza

Marissa Mendoza was born in 1996 and underwent 3 complex heart surgeries by the time she was 2 years old to repair several heart defects (Transposition of the Great Arteries, VSD, and Ventricular Inversion). Since she was just 4 years old, Marissa has had a passion for soccer; after all, it was in her blood – her Grandpa played in the World Cup and in the Olympics. At the age of 12 she was faced with the reality that she could no longer play competitive soccer and soon channeled her talents into theater and music. But it is her extensive volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters that is so rewarding for Marissa, and beneficial to that organization. Due to her hard work and creativity, they have increased both members and the number of “littles” that have benefited from the program.

Marissa is self-motivated, conscientious, and caring. She recently graduated from Burlington Township High School in New Jersey and will be attending The College of New Jersey this coming fall. We wish her all the best as she pursues a career in nursing, where according to her, she will “strive to achieve success in making others happy and healthy.”

 

2013 Scholarship Winners:
Marissa Patby

Marissa Payby was born in March of 1995 with Tricuspid Atresia. By 1998, she had already undergone three open heart surgeries. Growing up, she felt that her heart defects held her back from being able to participate in sports, but they did not hold her back from doing other things she liked throughout school. She found that she enjoyed photography, painting, and ceramics. “With not being able to do sports, it showed me a new love for photography, which I would love to do more of and minor in, in college, to learn new techniques.” In addition to her creative talents, Marissa is a giving person. She has raised money and provided holiday meals and gifts for her local community, as well as put together trick or treating bags for kids at Westchester Medical Center (where she had all of her surgeries) every year for Halloween. Marissa recently graduated from Ossining High School in New York. She will be attending SUNY Adirondack Community College this year, and aspires to one day work at Walt Disney World. May all of your dreams come true Marissa!!

Sylvia D’Alessandro

Sylvia D’Alessandro was born in December 1994 with Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. She has undergone five heart surgeries, the last one being in 2009. Growing up, Sylvia found it difficult being told that she couldn’t do certain things like playing soccer or going on roller coasters. She says that she finally felt that she fit in when she started going to Hope With Heart, a camp for children with various congenital heart defects. It was there that she gained the confidence to try new things, and soon after, she joined her school’s marching band. “Being able to do that is one of my biggest accomplishments. The band turned into my family away from Hope With Heart.” Sylvia says that, “From all my experiences in life, I have made my mind up on what I want to do for my career. I want to become a Pediatric Cardiologist. I want to make other kids know that they are not alone. My inspiration was all the doctors and nurses that were so kind and understanding to my situation. One day I will be in the same position of making kids’ lives better. Giving back to the community that has dedicated so much time to me is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.” Sylvia recently graduated from Middletown High School North in New Jersey. She will be attending Brookdale Community College in the Fall. Best wishes in your medical career Sylvia!!

 

2012 Scholarship Winner: Lauren Wright