As students are returning back to school across the nation, The ALS Association shared the announcement of an award of $350,000 in scholarships to 70 students for the 2022-2023 school year through The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund.
Established in 2019, the fund was created to support post-high school education for students whose lives have been impacted by ALS. Since its inception, the Association has awarded $1,545,000 in 309 scholarships for students nationwide who are pursuing an accredited college degree or vocational certificate.
“The financial burden of ALS is devastating to families, and kids are all too often collateral damage,” says Mark Calmes, member of The ALS Association’s National Board of Trustees, and founder of the scholarship fund. Mark and his family created the fund in honor of his late wife, Jane, who fought ALS for eight years and passed away in August 2017. “The disease forces many students to delay their education so they can pitch in as caregivers, while others lose the financial ability to attend school altogether. I’m very pleased the fund is able to help some of these students get back on the education path that was disrupted by ALS.”
We recently talked with Ashley Wong, one of the 2022 scholarship recipients, to learn more about her personal connection to ALS, what receiving the scholarship means to her, and her future plans in healthcare.
The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund was established to help people who have been impacted by ALS pursue their education. What is your personal connection to ALS?
My father passed away from ALS in September of 2019 and he was diagnosed just 9 months prior.
It’s estimated that more than 60 percent of people don’t know what ALS is. What do you wish people knew about the disease?
I wish people knew how devastating of a disease ALS is and how it truly impacts families and friends of those affected.
How will the Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund impact your future?
The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund will allow me to pursue my goal of earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.
What are you planning to study and why?
I am studying nursing because of my family’s history with health and diseases. My mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer when I was ten and my father was diagnosed with ALS when I was sixteen. Through my experiences with these incurable diseases, I have realized the unparalleled importance of nurses in the care for patients and their families. I am pursuing my career as a nurse with the desire to care for patients as people first and foremost without allowing their disease/illness to define them.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in school?
When I am not in school, I love to skateboard, enjoy nature with friends, go on picnics, cook food with my mom, and check out cool flea markets!