My Dad’s Alzheimer’s: How his disease motivated me

Scholarship Entrant: Alexandra from Blacksburg, Va
Essay Question: If you could earn a living doing what you love most, what would it be, and how would it change the world? Describe the specific goals you would set to make that dream a reality.
Vote for Alexandra: 56

About 500,000 people die, let alone those who are suffering, from Alzheimer’s disease. I watched my father suffer through the disease throughout my childhood and early adulthood. The torment family members have to go through as loved ones slowly slip away and die is nearly unbearable. After I have had to suffer through this and seeing many others in this same situation in the nursing home we eventually had to place my father in has given me a greater appreciation for life and all it has to offer. With this in mind, I want to go into research helping to solve the great mystery of Alzheimer’s.
There is a great misconception in popular culture that Alzheimer’s only affects a person’s mental facilities. Alzheimer’s first affects someone’s short term memory and gradually worsens to where they can’t remember family members they’ve known for decades. The body then starts to ‘forget’ how to function correctly: swallowing, walking, eating, talking, and other normal functions decrease until they stop. I want to do research to slow their decline into death. In order to do this research I need to complete my dual degree at Virginia Tech in Biology and Statistics. I then plan to get a research assistant position in a laboratory analyzing data to help understand new drugs or protocols in medications. With my educational and emotional backgrounds I would have a new and different prospective on analyzing data and suggesting changes in protocols.

Vote for Alexandra: 56

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