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.”

Get To Know Our 2019 Scholarship Recipient – Alexandra Tulowiecki

We’d like to formally introduce our 2019 Scholarship Recipient, Alexandra Tulowiecki. Alexandra (Lexi) is a senior at Syracuse University studying social work, psychology, and forensic science. 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 $1,000 scholarship to Lexi this year.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! My name is Lexi. I graduated from Liverpool High School in 2016 with an advanced regents diploma with honors and mastery in math and science. I am starting my senior year at Syracuse University this fall, and I am a triple major studying social work, psychology, and forensic science. I love reading, particularly psychological thrillers. I’m a huge fan of country music, with Hunter Hayes being my absolute favorite. I also love spending time with my friends, my very large family, my grandparents, my little sister, my boyfriend, and my three cats. I would also like to mention my high school social worker Mrs. P because she is the entire reason I am studying social work, someday I hope to be just like her.

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

In ten years, I hope to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I love helping others and would enjoy working at a hospital or with children in my future. It is also important to advocate for heroin addiction and alcohol addiction, and I hope to be more involved in these issues in my future. I also hope to have adopted a dog, and maybe live on my own and have started a family. 

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

Aside from obtaining a college degree, I hope to grow in my relationship with God. I am a Christian, and my freshman year I joined a Christian organization on campus known as Cru. It has been very influential in who I am as a person, and the support I have through the staff and other students has helped me through my grief so much.

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

My family, particularly my parents and my little sister, are what motivate me to accomplish my goals. My mother and father raised me to love with my whole heart, and help others however I can. I know that even though they are not physically here with me, they are cheering me on from Heaven. My little sister, Catrina, inspires me every day to work hard and follow my dreams. She is the strongest person I know, and I am so proud to be her big sister. 

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

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.