2018 Scholarship Recipients!

Congratulations to Kelsay Parrott, Jessica Herrejon, Janine Hadid, Breanna Bates-Gray, Beau Zanca, Marissa Finley, Breanna Bollinger, Melanie Lisinicchia,Emma Lewis, Rubi Miramontes, Colbie Carl, Jordan Rodriguez, Justin Rodriguez and Josephine Bunnell, our 2018 scholarship winners.

MelanieKelsay Parrott was FTTTF’s first scholarship recipient from the state of Iowa and is the 2018 recipient of the Barbara Latenser Memorial Scholarship.  As a young girl, Kelsay suffered severe burns in a simple effort to blow out a candle on a birthday cake.  Those burns not only necessitated many surgeries but also caused other challenges and disorders that Kelsay has extraordinarily overcome.  Through her experience, Kelsay has shown the kind of person she is with various volunteer activities, most notably by creating “Joy Bags”, creating and filling bags full of school supplies for hospitalized children in Iowa and Nebraska.  Kelsay will enter her second year at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa studying youth ministry, Christian education and religion.  She hopes to use her personal experience and education to be a minister and motivational speaker.

KelsayThe 2018 Dan Yost Memorial Scholarship award winner, Jessica Herrejon was scalded with boiling water at just five years old.  Although dealing with severe burn injuries as a child wasn’t easy, Jessica considers her injuries a blessing in that they have made her a unique, strong and open minded young woman.  Jessica has been attending Camp I Am Me since the age of eight and also has become a junior counselor to give back to young children like herself.  An excellent student, Jessica Herrejon is entering her fourth and final year at Western Illinois University where she has worked hard to gain the skills and the knowledge to become a project manager in the field of construction management.

RubiJanine Hadid is the third of her family to receive a Tragedy to Triumph scholarship.  This year specifically, she’s receiving the 2018 Alex Collazo Memorial Scholarship.  Janine’s family got caught in a house fire when her mother attempted to enhance a fire in the fireplace using gasoline.  Janine was very young, sitting on the bed of her room, on fire, until her older brother rushed in to get her out. He burned himself in the process.  Emerging with over 40% of her body burned, Janine hasn’t let the experience hold her back in the slightest. She’s racked up many hours of community service, was an excellent student at Carl Sandburg High in Orland Park. She will begin her collegiate career this fall at Roosevelt University pursuing a degree in Business in Accounting.

AmariBreanna Bates-Gray is a determined young woman attending the College of Lake County.  Her dream to help people in their time of need and the drive to fulfill it comes from the outstanding Dr. Gamelli who treated Breanna for her extensive burns.  As a child visiting her grandparents for the 4th of July, a terrible accident with gasoline set Breanna on fire and all she remembers is her family screaming in reaction to seeing her injuries, then blacking out on the operating table.  But after attending Camp I Am Me for many years, Breanna has turned her terrible experience into a positive by setting out to become a nurse in order to help save lives.

Beau Following a fun time at a 2016 Cubs game with a couple friends of his, Beau Zanca suffered devastating third and fourth degree burns in an apartment fire.  From what could be pieced together following the fire, a friend of Beau’s friends jumped out the third floor window to escape the fire while Beau valiantly tried to help get him and his other friend out.  Beau fought through surgeries and grueling rehab for many months to get to where he is today and credits the experience for helping him to live  his life to the fullest.  Having once been a college football player at UW Platteville, Beau is continuing his college education at Northeastern Illinois University, pursuing a degree in the field of social work.

MarissaMarissa Finley, an avid golfer from Plainfield, had her high school senior year of golf ripped away from her in the summer of 2015.  Giving her small cousins a ride on a golf cart, one of the children turned the wheel too quickly, causing the golf cart to flip and land on Marissa, causing extensive burns to her legs.  Unable to walk for quite a while, Marissa was still there cheering on and helping her teammates through her senior year of school.  Along with her regular appearances on the Dean’s list for high GPA and her participation in student government, this just speaks to the kind of person she is.  Marissa is entering her third year at the University of Illinois, pursuing a degree in psychology with a minor in criminology.

LaurenBreanna Bollinger is an outstanding young woman and student from Indiana.  Growing up on a farm, at the young age of 3 years old, she was badly burned when her father fired up the blow torch for a fairly routine job that she wanted to watch. Countless hours of recovering from the injuries and the surgeries that had left her feeling like an “anomaly” meant she spent plenty of time with nurses who made her feel anything but.  It was those many experiences that, at a very young age, inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.  As early as her senior year of high school, she interned at the very hospital where she was treated.  This desire to be a nurse has also taken her to Africa twice as an acting medical volunteer. Breanna has two years left at the prestigious Bronson School of Nursing at Western Michigan University. 

SamMelanie Lisinicchia is the 2018 recipient of the Kelly Skiles Memorial Scholarship and is a returning recipient from the state of Indiana.  Melanie is an outstanding student, transferring from Indiana University to Purdue University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology before she plans to continue toward a master’s degree in genetic counseling.  As a six year-old, Melanie tripped and fell into her grandmother’s fire pit mere moments after the fire had burned down and she suffered extensive injuries.  She could have let this and other health issues bog her down but she’s done anything but.  Melanie has a positive attitude, has maintained a 4.0 GPA and consistently gives back to her community by participating in numerous volunteer endeavors.

BreannaEmma Lewis comes to us from Springport, Indiana, entering her sophomore year at Ohio State University.  Emma was just 18 months old when she was burned.  She doesn’t remember much about it, nor does she care to, because it wouldn’t change the hours upon hours spent in the hospital for treatment and surgeries to treat her injuries.  When not in the hospital, Emma has excelled in school.  In high school, she was an avid athlete, playing basketball, volleyball, golf and track and field while also being part of numerous school clubs.  All that time spent in hospitals however has managed to give her hope - hope to make things better for kids like her, to find cures, and that is what has led her to pursue a degree in biology.

MarissaRubi Miramontes is returning to the Tragedy to Triumph foundation as a scholarship recipient after a break to give birth to her son Aidan.  As a young girl at the ripe age of seven, a car ran a red light, colliding with her mother and Rubi while she was holding hot soup.  Knocked out from the car accident, Rubi woke up in the hospital with third degree burns to her legs.  However, as difficult experiences can be, it led her to Camp I Am Me where she was the youngest camper and eventually met many lifelong friends.  As a new mother, Rubi’s life has changed drastically this past year.  She credits her son in helping her to strive to be a better person for him and for herself, and part of that means she will be furthering her education at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL.

LaurenRecipient of the 2018 Jorge Mijares Memorial Scholarship, Colbie Carl hails from Walnut, Illinois.  Just a couple years ago, Colbie suffered the consequences of dropping a pot of boiling water on her legs, leading to extensive 2nd degree burns on the fronts of her legs.  She missed school and an event that would have helped her learn about the next step of her life, college.  Nonetheless, she credits the experience recovering from her injuries in showing her just how strong she can be when called upon to.  A volleyball player and dancer who’s been active in her community leading volleyball and dance camps, she has also made blankets for local firefighters and gift bags for people in hospitals.  Entering her freshman year of college, Colbie will be studying agriculture and business at a great school for the field: Iowa State University.

SamThe 2018 Tim Miller Memorial Scholarship recipient Jordan Rodriguez was just four years old when he went back into his burning house to try to get his twin brother Justin out.  Both of them became trapped but some brave neighbors ran in to save them both.  Jordan has spent the last year being active in his community, including picking up garbage from the streets, washing people’s cars for free, landscaping gardens and visiting the elderly to keep them company.  This is in addition to his participation for the last six years as a counselor at Camp I Am Me. After Jordan spent the last few years finding himself, he has decided to pursue a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Roosevelt University where he’ll be able to use his outgoing personality to excel in the field.

BreannaJustin Rodriguez forms the other half of the dynamic duo referenced above. Justin was with his brother Jordan in the house fire that injured the both of them, started when he and his brothers were playing with fire. But like his brother, Justin hasnít let the experience hold him back. Jordan had been juggling both work and school before focusing on his education in earning his associates degree from Triton college. What Justin credits for changing the direction of his life the most is getting a job as a facilitator at the Chicago Childrenís Museum. He had been a counselor at Camp I Am Me for many years and Justin has earned numerous commendations at the Childrenís Museum with many kids mentioning him by name in surveys and feedback. His experience working there has cemented his desire to get his Bachelors degree in early childhood education from National Lewis University.

SamHailing from Oskaloosa, Iowa, Josephine Bunnell will be starting her collegiate career this year at Northeastern College in Orange City, Iowa.  At just 18 months old, a curious Josie pulled a pot of steamed broccoli on herself, spilling boiling water down her arm.  She was eventually airlifted to University of Iowa where they had depth of experience to treat her burns.  Josie eventually attended Miracle Burn Camp where she learned the breadth of her compassion for fellow burn survivors like her.  Josie is a devoted Christian, an outstanding student and a very active member in her community volunteering in various activities with her church and through school.  As a freshman at Northeastern College, Josie will embark on a journey studying psychology and religion.