Out of 20 applicants with various disabilities, three young women have been chosen as 2014 Ocean State Center for Independent Living scholarship recipients. This year’s recipients are: 21-year-old Samantha Collins, 18-year-old Sara Iacono and 17-year-old Brittany Martin. Collins is a three-time recipient of the scholarship.
“It helps a lot with the books and uniforms … it eases my mind knowing I have a very good support system,” she said.
Collins is a student at the University of Rhode Island taking part in a five-year nursing program.
“I wanted to become a nurse because of my friend Bethany Cyr … she passed away from cancer,” Collins said. “I want to be able to give someone the help that they need.”
Collins is hearing impaired and uses a special stethoscope and finds that it helps her to excel in her field.
Martin, a first-year recipient of the scholarship, said, “My medical bills have been in the millions … I’m very thankful.” She is an incoming freshman to the university who will also be studying nursing. Martin was diagnosed with Synovial Carcoma cancer in 2012 and had to undergo chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Now with her treatment completed, she is using devices to assist her walking, such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.
“I never wanted to be a nurse, I was always afraid I would hurt people,” she said.
Now, all she wants to do is help and make their lives better.
This is Iacono’s second year receiving a scholarship and she is very thankful. Iacono is enrolled at CCRI and plans to continue her education and study acting and journalism.
“I started writing in seventh grade, I wanted to expand to news and actually tell people what was going on instead of using just my imagination,” she said.
Iacono has a detached retina, leaving her completely blind in her left eye. Iacono has undergone many surgeries over the years; in 2013 as a senior in high school she had to get yet another surgery causing her to miss four months of school and nearly every school function.
Qualified applicants must be Rhode Island residents with a significant disability and seeking financial assistance to attend a college or technical school. Preference is based on merit, economic need and educational goals. The Scholarship Advisory Committee will screen applicants. OSCIL Board, staff and their families are excluded.
Catherine T. Murray Memorial Scholarships have been helping students since 1995.
“It’s all about overcoming barriers,” said OSCIL executive director Lorna Ricci.
The late Catherine T. Murray was a board member and a dedicated volunteer at OSCIL who wished to support philosophy and the spirit of OSCIL through scholarships. Murray was also a longtime Warwick schoolteacher.