Flashback Friday to Our Past Scholarship Recipients

We’d like to do a flashback Friday recognizing our four past scholarship recipients! Thank you to all our supporters for making it possible to provide scholarships to students who have lost a parent to substance abuse.

2019 Recipient: Alexandra Tulowiecki, Syracuse University

Quote from Alexandra’s essay: “There was no easy way to cope with the loss of both of my parents within four years, but I was able to get through this time with the help of my high school social worker. Instead of bottling up my anger, grief, and confusion, we met once a week to talk throughout high school, and we continue to get together throughout my college years. Sharing my story helps me cope, because I want to save others through it. I want to be a support for other children with addicted parents, to help them through it.”

2018 Recipient: Veronica Nation, University of Colorado Denver

Quote from Veronica’s essay: “Talking about what happened, and taking the next steps to recovery helped me understand a lot about myself and about addiction. I learned I could not and still cannot change people and make decisions for them. I learned that the best coping mechanism for me is to put my heart and energy into things that really matter to me: writing and my education. I know that addiction is controlling, it is deep and painful and hard to escape. Love has given me everything I need to forgive my father, and I am so thankful to have grown from such a difficult time in my life.”

2017 Recipient: Daniele Martino, Iona College

Quote from Daniele’s essay: “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death of a family member, no person is truly prepared to lose somebody they love. To lose a family member to addiction is confusing, infuriating and at times, hopeless. The most we can do is put together the broken pieces and seek some angle of perspective into what could have caused such a bewildering tragedy. My ultimate goal is to contribute to creating a more well-rounded depiction of what mental illness entails by pursuing a career in the mental health field. I believe this scholarship would help bring me closer to my career aspirations and in my mission of correctly educating the public about the mental health epidemic, in order to eradicate the addiction stigma.”

2016 Recipient: Micole Fuller, Washington State University

Quote from Micole’s essay: “I think the essence of [this scholarship] foundation is something I have a lot of respect for and understanding of. While dealing with my father’s death, his mental illness, and especially his alcohol abuse for 20 years was an extremely hard part of my life, I do appreciate the opportunity that even this application has given me to reconcile with the past and honor the fact that—despite the hardships in his life—he was a good man who wanted nothing more than to be there for his children. Even if I’m not given the award, I have a lot of admiration for its purpose and am glad that a deserving student who has faced things I am all too familiar with will be given this academic opportunity.”

Advice From Our Past Scholarship Recipients

Each year we ask our scholarship recipient a series of questions. To assist students in similar circumstances, we wanted to consolidate our past recipient’s answers to the following question:

What advice would you give to other students who have been through circumstances similar to yours?

2019 Scholarship Recipient, Alexandra Tulowiecki

“My biggest advice for anyone who has lost a loved one to substance abuse is to take that pain, that sadness, and that hurt and use it for something positive. Personally, I find it helpful to volunteer at the hospital and help others going through similar situations. Losing a loved one changes everything. It is crucial to find positive outlets such as exercising, talking to friends and family, or listening to music. Do what you love, and understand that nothing is your fault. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.” 

2018 Scholarship Recipient, Veronica Nation

“The advice I would give to other students who have been through similar circumstances would be to give yourself time to heal. I think time is one of the biggest factors when it comes to acceptance after grieving. It’s important to remember what you can control and what you cannot, and death of a loved one is one of the hardest things to go through. Let yourself grieve and learn to cope in a healthy way, but don’t allow a hardship to overtake your life.”

2017 Scholarship Recipient, Daniele Martino

“I want to stress to others who have experienced the loss of a loved one to substance abuse, that just because this person grappled with addiction does not mean they didn’t care about you. I know that my father loved me and I know that because of his dependency he was not able to be as present in my life as he would have liked to have been, but he would not have wanted me to lose sight of who I am in this process. It is so easy to relinquish control and lose track of your goals in the face of tragedy, especially given the nature of another person’s addiction being so far out of our control. I hope that any young person who has lost a family member in this way is able to find solace in advocating for things that are within their control, and to use this loss to push them in the direction of the person they hope to be.”

2016 Scholarship Recipient, Micole Fuller

“My advice would be to try not to lose sight of who you are in the emotional turmoil of family and life. It can be easy to forget such things when someone you love has lost themselves to substance abuse, as you tend to get caught up in their problems and identity crisis, and from the guilt you may feel when you can’t seem to help them find their way. But you have to remember that you can only help someone who wants to help themselves, and that your identity is just as important as helping others find and maintain their own. Indeed, it is far easier to help others when you have the confidence and sense of self to support your desire to reach out to them. It is far more difficult to help someone (re)gain their identity and find the right path when you’re still questioning your own identity.”