Get To Know Our 2020 Scholarship Recipient – Katherine Blank

We’d like to formally introduce our 3rd Place 2020 Scholarship Recipient, Katherine Blank. The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund was established to assist and recognize students who have lost a parent to substance abuse. We are proud to award a $300 scholarship to Kylie this year.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Katherine Blank, I am currently a rising sophomore at the historically women’s college, Agnes Scott College looking to major in Neuroscience with a minor in Artificial Intelligence. I serve as the sustainability senator for my school’s Student Government Association and the Vice President of the Bee Society, a local sustainability-based center in Decatur, Georgia. I have a passion for anything science-related as I hope to be on the forefront of neurological research.

Q: Imagine yourself 10 years from now. What goals and ambitions do you have for yourself, personally, academically, and professionally?

One of my main goals in life is stability, this has only gained more importance as the tumultuous effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic have continued to take the world by storm. I hope to have my doctorate in Neuroscience as a Medical Scientist and researcher to be a stepping stone towards many of the neurological functions of the mind that have yet to be understood or even discovered.

Q: Aside from a college degree, what do you hope to gain from your college experience?

Freedom! As much as I love and adore my family, going off to an unknown city and making my own identity for myself outside of being one of eight children in a small town was very important to me.

Q: What motivates you to continue working towards accomplishing your goals?

My fiance, he is absolutely my rock and best friend. He keeps my head on my shoulders even through the darkest days.

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

Find your people. I found mine after being named a @horatioalgerassociation scholar. I have been introduced to thousands of scholars and distinguished Americans across the country. Losing a parent at a young age is devastating enough, losing a parent to a substance abuse adds a stigma from the decades of degradation at the hands of the opioid epidemic can be very isolating and traumatic. Having friends and a community to lift one another up is more important than ever.

Get To Know Our 2020 Scholarship Recipient – Kylie Gamber

We’d like to formally introduce our 2nd Place 2020 Scholarship Recipient, Kylie Gamber. The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund was established to assist and recognize students who have lost a parent to substance abuse. We are proud to award a $400 scholarship to Kylie this year.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a third-year veterinary student at the University of Florida. I moved to Florida from Ohio with my husband, two dogs, two cats, and two horses. I have dedicated much of my life to becoming a veterinarian and am currently living my dream! Aside from school, I keep busy with horseback riding, playing soccer, biking, and hiking with the dogs.

Q: Imagine yourself 10 years from now. What goals and ambitions do you have for yourself, personally, academically, and professionally?

Ten years from now I hope to be well established as a veterinarian. I plan on gaining experience by working in emergency and private practice, and hopefully in about ten years I will be starting the process of opening my own veterinary practice. I also plan to further my education beyond veterinary school and by that point I hope to be certified in acupuncture and rehabilitation. Aside from my career, my husband and I are very excited to start a family! We are considering staying in Florida, but we really miss being close to family, so who knows where we’ll be at that point. 

Q: Aside from a college degree, what do you hope to gain from your college experience?

Aside from my degree, I hope to graduate veterinary school with a strong grasp on how to have open communication and good relationships with clients. There tends to be a lot of stress in my career field between us (veterinarians) and pet owners. I hope to learn the best ways to help people, teach them, and be a friend to them, beyond just being their veterinarian and beyond helping the animal. I really hope to be someone they can rely on, be honest with, and trust. I try to learn from every client interaction, and I always listen to how the doctors talk to clients and gauge responses to learn the best methods of communication.

Q: What motivates you to continue working towards accomplishing your goals?

I think what motivates me the most is honest passion for what I’m doing. Nothing makes me happier than veterinary medicine and I truly want to be the best veterinarian possible, both for the animals and their owners. Growing up, it was definitely my dad that pushed me, so gently and with almost silent praise. It was hearing him talk proudly of me behind my back, telling others I was going to be a doctor. Before I was old enough to really understand this passion, my dad knew what I could be and never let me settle for less.

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

My advice to others who have been through similar circumstances is to be honest with your feelings. I battled depression, guilt, anxiety, relief, love, and anger somehow all at the same time. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. I went to a grief group, went through counseling, and became closer to extended family members than I had ever been before. It’s ok to feel however you’re feeling, just don’t fight it and don’t go through it alone. Eventually the deepest pain will pass, and if you take care of yourself, you’ll find the memories can come with joy and you’ll be a better person because of it.