During my junior year of high school, I received a letter of invitation to the 2010 summer conference of the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. At that time, I was aspiring to be a Pediatric Physician and really wanted to attend the conference, but knew that I didn’t have the financial means to be able to do so. After speaking with Eloise Barrett (Program Coordinator for The Paul Schreurs Memorial Program at the Ithaca Youth Bureau) about how to approach organizations, as well as how to obtain sponsors, I approached my mentor and friend, Cal Walker. Through the combined financial assistance of The Paul Schreurs Memorial Program and the Village at Ithaca, I was able to attend this life-changing symposium. It was an eye opening experience, and I came back hungry for more knowledge.

Today, I am currently an Ithaca College undergraduate entering my final year as a Therapeutic Recreation major, with minors in both Dance and Theatre. Therapeutic Recreation is a major that uses a holistic approach to wellness and happiness for individuals across diverse backgrounds. For me, Therapeutic Recreation is a way to be able to combine all the activities that I love (and the things about which I am passionate) and direct them toward a medical application. Everything that I love and want to do in life is: dancing, working with children, working in medicine, working with people from all different areas and walks of life, travel, and PLAY! This major allows me to do it all – to have fun without changing who I am.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of Cal Walker and the Village at Ithaca. This organization is an integral part of my foundational support, and they have been there for me consistently throughout the years! Beginning with the Path of Success seminar during my high school years, an instrumental personal development workshop that gave me the drive, the focus, and the motivation that I needed to believe that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Not only that, but the Path of Success program helped me to believe in me. Village at Ithaca has helped me become the goal-oriented, determined young lady that I am today – and, for that, I will be ever grateful. I can only hope that one day I will be able to return the favor and be a blessing for them (and others) as they have been for me!

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