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2016
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Sarah Baumgarten is taking a well-earned gap year to study in Israel, before returning to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2017. One of Sarah’s first acts as a teenager was to request (along with her twin sister) that family and friends donate to Making Headway in lieu of Bat Mitzvah gifts. She continued this spirit of generosity throughout high school, serving as a child life volunteer at both North Shore-LIJ Health System and Hassenfeld Children’s Center, and spending two summers working at Sunrise Day Camp, a camp for children with cancer.

A 2014 high school graduate, Lionel Chen is currently attending Bergen County Community College with the goal of becoming a teacher. Lionel served on his class student council for three years in high school and was also active in the Red Cross Club. As a volunteer with the Brain Tumor Foundation (BTF), he took the initiative to organize a school toy drive for BTF’s annual holiday party.

Logan Ippoliti graduated high school in 2016, winning both the Student of Distinction in Photography and the Overcoming the Odds awards. After attending a pre-college summer program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Logan—whose ultimate goal is to attend FIT and pursue a career in the fashion industry—is now enrolled at Westchester Community College.

During her senior year of high school Lauren Lam served as president of the Key Club and won the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which recognizes students for outstanding service to others at the local, state, and national level. After graduating last June, she’s attending Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Lauren hasn’t yet decided on a major, but one thing she knows for sure is that her career will involve helping others.

The second time’s the charm for Chantelle Lovett, who was first offered a Scott J. Reisser Memorial Scholarship when she graduated high school in 2012. Chantelle turned down the opportunity, feeling she was not ready for college, but this time she’s accepted and is delighted to be enrolled at Suffolk County Community College. Her goal is to become a teaching assistant.

Emily Ousouljoglou, who graduated high school in 2013, is currently majoring in social work at Misericordia University. Her goal is to work with children with special needs, ideally with organizations that focus specifically on brain tumors or cancer. Emily has mentored at Camp Mak-A Dream, played a leadership role in American Cancer Society Relay for Life events at Misericordia, and led a quilting project for survivors at the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.

As far back as middle school, Noelle Sollivan demonstrated her big heart by selling gray ribbons to benefit Making Headway during Brain Tumor Awareness Month. In high school, she served as President of the Make-A-Wish Club, organizing a volleyball marathon which raised $4,000 for that organization. She also served as Student Council Treasurer, and was honored with a Students in Action Jefferson Award for Service. The 2016 graduate and is now attending Kean University, with plans to become a physical therapist.

When Lucas Sundwall graduated high school this past June, he left a trail of honors including four years on the quarterly honor roll, membership in the National Honor Society, and Scholastic Achievement Awards in English, history, and Arabic. Lucas, who hopes to make a difference in how people with disabilities are treated in our society, is now attending Quinnipiac University as a legal studies major. His goal is to attend law school and focus on disability rights or advocacy.

A 2014 high school graduate, Joshua Watabe is now working his way through a sports management program at Bowling Green State University. In a note of thanks for his scholarship, Joshua wrote, “I’ve always wanted to represent and live for those who lost their fight, by honoring them with my pursuit of success.”

2015
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Following a busy high school career that included volunteering and staffing both the yearbook and the literary magazine, Sophia Casale is continuing her studies at Stockton University, with plans to become speech therapist in the public schools.

A freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology, Brian Gribben is majoring in computer technology engineering. During high school, he was National Ambassador for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and president of the National Honor Society.

While in high school, Alan Khatsernov started a cancer awareness club and worked as a counselor at Sunrise Day Camp, for children with cancer and their siblings. This fall, he’s entering the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

A sophomore at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Brandon LaFever plans to become a pediatric neuroscientist. In high school he acted in school musicals and sang in the all-county chorus; now he sings for the nationally renowned RIT acapella group, Eight Beat Measure.

Having endured about 100 MRIs herself, Riley Magner has decided to study medical imaging so she can help other children going through the same thing. In high school she was a peer mediator, and worked as volunteer photographer at a camp for kids with cancer.

A sophomore at Iona College, where he was proud to make Dean’s List as a freshman, Brian McCabe is pursuing a business degree. When the weather cooperates, he is also an avid snowboarder.

A member of the Quinnipiac University Honors Program, Nathan Orsini received an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in Communications. He is currently on medical leave but plans to continue his studies in the spring.

In high school Halie Palmer was a member of the National Honor Society, Tomorrow’s Teachers, and the yearbook club, and also a mentor for the Heroes and Cool Kids program. This fall she’s entering Edinboro University, with dreams of becoming a museum curator.

A second-year student at the Tiferet Center in Ramat Beit Shmesh, Israel, Netanya Stein is pursuing a career in social justice, while also finding time to volunteer at an after-school center for children with severe special needs.

2014
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In high school, Thomas Golden was in both the Business & Marketing and the Foreign Language Honor Societies—along with working on the school paper and participating in Model United Nations. This fall, he entered Lehigh University, with the ultimate goal of earning a PhD and become a college professor of English.

In the summer between her two years at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Jasmine Hall interned with the infants and toddlers at a childcare center within a homeless shelter. She’s continued to visit the children she came to know and love there, and will now pursue her degree in early childhood education at Brooklyn College. Upon graduation, Jasmine plans to find a job while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in education.

Gene Jerskey earned both his high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree last June, when he graduated from Bard High School Early College. While in high school, he pursued his interests in photography and film at NYU. He also advocated for pediatric brain tumor survivors’ education rights, collaborating on an “Education Toolkit” and serving on panels with the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. Next step—a bachelor’s degree at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

A senior at Marymount Manhattan College, Hannah Klitsberg is majoring in studio art and minoring in art therapy. In her spare time, she volunteers on art projects with the children at Hassenfeld. Her goal is to head to graduate school in order to become an art therapist and work with veterans suffering from PTSD as well as children that have had experiences similar to her own.

Juliana LoPiccolo was on the honor roll all four years of high school. A chorister since the age of six, she was a member of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and has performed with Barbra Streisand, been on the David Letterman Show, and sung at the 9/11 Memorial. She is now pursuing her bachelor’s at Bucknell University.

Katherine Nelson (Kate) published her first novel at age 13 and had her first play performed at Playwrights Horizons (off-Broadway) at age 14; she also composed original instrumental music for, and acted in, an inter-school production of Romeo and Juliet. This fall, she took her considerable talents to Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, which she hopes will be a first step in becoming a lawyer with a specialty in entertainment law.

The first student in the history of her high school to receive two “Silver Awards” for excellence, Samantha Ragone was on the Principal’s List and Honor Roll in High School. She’s now continuing her studies at Camden County College.

In high school Joanne Rhee received the AP Scholar with Honor award and President Obama’s Award for Educational Excellence. Planning to become a doctor, Joanne is on the next stage of her educational journey at New York University.

2013
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A recipient of both the Evan Angell Memorial Award for outstanding life achievement by a high school sophomore and the Bank of Fairfield Community Spirit Award, Aaron Gaberman will pursue a Bachelor’s Degree at Marist College.

Jason Fiore is an engineering major at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he is a member of the National Honor Society and consistently on the Dean’s List.

Fernando Morales, who is entering New York Institute of Technology this fall, hopes eventually to influence the development of new medical approaches for the treatment of children with brain tumors.

An honor roll student and athlete, Meaghan Tully is pursuing the next step in her education at Rockland Community College.

2012
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Chantelle Lovett is pursuing a degree in social services at Suffolk County Community College.

Sydney Lilieholm will start her sophomore year at Salem State University this spring, working toward a degree in business management.

Morgan McNary is continuing her engineering studies at the University of Dayton.

Alex Pratzon, a freshman at Alfred State College in New York, plans to study electromechanical engineering.

2011
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Varsity athlete Cristino Chavez will be attending The College at Old Westbury. Cristino, who competed on the track and cross country teams at Glen Cove High School, is hoping the next finish line he crosses will be college graduation. His goal is to get a degree in art history and become a curator.

Daniel Fischer is getting ready to study Sports Management while minoring in Business Management at Towson University. “I could not be more excited about my future prospects working in a field that intrigues and interests me,” says Daniel. “I am grateful to have this opportunity and to also have a deep appreciation of being able to go to college, an otherwise simple rite of passage for most eighteen-year-olds.”

Krystle Narine’s goal is to get her B.A. in social work with a certificate in Child Life. The sophomore will graduate from Nassau Community College this fall, then continue her education at SUNY Stony Brook. Her interest in Child Life grows from her own experience: “I realized that I would like to help other sick children with cancer and other serious illnesses because I can relate and understand their pain. I am challenged by learning disabilities, yet I try to envision myself as a caregiver, a social worker or child life therapist. I want to share my artistic talent through art therapy and bring joy to someone in pain.”

Working with children is also the plan for Jennifer Pulgrano, who will pursue a special education degree at Nassau Community College. Jennifer is a graduate of Division Avenue High School in Levittown, New York, where she was kept more than busy as Secretary of SADD (“Students Against Destructive Decisions”) and Vice President of the Cooking Club as well as through her membership in Best Buddies, the Key Club, Fashion Club and Art Club. As if that’s not enough, Jennifer is active in the Girl Scouts and is currently working on her Gold Award.

2010
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Lauren Chiaramonte is beginning her second year at Mitchell College. A Liberal and Professional Studies major, her goal is to become a radiology technician. “I feel I will have come full circle, becoming a part of the field that has and continues to help me,” Lauren explains.

Exercise science is the career of choice for Gabriella Feltre, a freshman at Mercer County Community College. Gabriella plans to continue her education at a four year college and then work at a rehabilitation hospital, with children in situations similar to the one she once faced.

Christine Kiernan has started pursuing a degree in special education at Caldwell College. “I would like to help kids that may have come into the world with Down syndrome or other disabilities so I can give them the same love and support that others have shown me throughout my entire life,” she says.

Already a sophomore at Susquehanna University, Katherine Vallone hopes to become a business manager in the biomedical field, helping to develop and market products for the wounded: “I want them to be able to live their lives with greater confidence and independence,” Katherine says.

2009
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Last fall Stephanie Mejia told her high school principal, “I am determined to limp my way across the stage on my graduation day to receive my diploma.” Her determination clearly paid off; now she is well on her way to achieving her dream of “sharing and helping others live their lives to the fullest extent.” A freshman at Hunter College, Stephanie plans to study nursing.

2008
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A member of both the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society, Megan Lerner is a freshman at Rutgers University this fall. While her academic interests include medicine and psychology, she hasn’t yet made any firm decisions about what career to pursue.