Scholarships in USA

Willis pens winning essay in Alzheimer’s Scholarship Contest – Henry County Times

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) named Mary Willis of McDonough the first-place winner of its national 2022 Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest and awarded her a $5,000 college scholarship. Mary was chosen from nearly 1,800 entries nationwide for her essay about her grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when Mary was just nine-years-old, and the lessons she learned during her grandmother’s time with the illness.

“Mary’s heartwarming essay about her grandmother and the impact that she had on her life is a prime example of how Alzheimer’s disease affects people of all ages,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “Mary’s efforts to make a difference for others in honor of her grandmother are truly inspiring. We congratulate her on winning this competition and thank her for sharing her story.”

Mary’s essay described her close relationship with her grandmother, and, despite how hard it has been seeing Alzheimer’s change her grandmother, that it taught her much about herself and helped her “realize my best memories of her were the ones that shaped me into the person I am today.”

Mary Willis (right) of McDonough was awarded $5,000 as first place winner in the 2022 Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest. Her essay dealt with the Alzheimer diagnosis of her grandmother, Frances, and the impact it has had on their relationship.
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“My work ethic in every aspect of my life represents the two jobs she worked to send my mother to college. I strive to be the best student and teammate possible as I remember what my grandmother gave up to give my mom her best shot. My drive to be the best person I can be, not just for myself, but for those around me reflects the type of person she was. My grandmother inspires me daily to change the world even if it starts small,” she wrote.

Influenced by her experiences, Mary started the Passion Project, a local project that brings students together across Henry County from all different schools and backgrounds to volunteer and work to make the community a better place.

Within the Passion Project, Mary shares how Alzheimer’s and dementia have affected her life and inspired her to want to help others impacted by the disease. Students involved in the project have been able to collect donations for memory care settings and see firsthand the effects the disease has on those diagnosed as well as their family and friends. Mary, who recently graduated from Union Grove High School, hopes to open a chapter of the Passion Project on her college campus at Auburn University in the Fall and teach students there about this condition.

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