For Stefanie Little, going to college is more than just a rite of passage or an opportunity to live on her own. It’s about healing, gratitude and ultimately, perseverance.
When Stefanie was 8 years old, her mother – a strong young woman who kept her pain and struggle hidden from her children – lost her battle with breast cancer. After her mother died, Stefanie dedicated herself to supporting the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, first as a race participant and then as a volunteer.
Despite spending many years of her childhood immersed in the cause, Stefanie never realized how great an impact her own mother’s struggle would have on her life – until she began thinking about her own future.
“I realize now how hard she was fighting to be there for me and my brother and that my giving up would let her down,” said Stefanie, now 18. “I need to make something of myself for her and for my family, but most importantly for myself. She taught me that life is worth fighting for.”
Stefanie enrolled at California State University San Marcos and decided she needed to devote her studies to something she was passionate about and something that would impact peoples’ lives – that something was nursing. And as a 2011-2012 recipient of a Susan G. Komen for the Cure scholarship, the college freshman can sharpen her focus on achieving her nursing degree and becoming more involved in her school environment.
According to Stefanie, winning the Komen scholarship means she can afford to live on campus and spread the mission of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to her classmates. Her ultimate goal is to work as an Emergency Room or Intensive Care nurse, but first Stefanie wants to take her activism and passion for the cause to the international stage.
“Right after I get my degree, I want to participate in some sort of traveling nurse program – something like the Peace Corps – so I can work in third world countries,” said Stefanie. “By traveling, I can also be an advocate for the Foundation and make people in other countries aware of what it is doing in the fight to find a cure.”
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Scholarship Program selects four winners annually who have demonstrated excellence in academics and volunteer service and who have either lost a parent to breast cancer or been diagnosed with the disease before the age of 25. These students receive up to $10,000 per year for up to four years to fund their education.