Winner of the 2014 Dr. Martin C. Mihm Health Career Scholarship

I was born with a port-wine stain birthmark and a lip doctors termed tumorous. While my birthmark never physically prevented me from doing the things that I love, my condition nevertheless was a mental barrier that proved to be surprisingly persistent. The worst part was that my condition hurt the people I love most, my parents.

I remember once when I was in third grade, a nurse, upon seeing my unnaturally large and purple lip, marched up to my mother and accused her of beating me. It pained me to watch what that did to my mother, especially knowing that there was no way she was responsible for my birthmark. Similar incidents and uncomfortable stares led me to grow up believing that there was something inherently wrong with me, and there is little that can be more discouraging and harmful than the belief that you are defective.

However, I would say that my birthmark has given more than it has taken from me. By the age of ten, my family became one of 75,000 networked into treatment by the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation. My parents were relieved to know that there were people whom we could depend on for answers and support. My doctors unfailing devotion to treat me with the utmost care has inspired me to live with the same kind of perseverance and compassion.

I’d like to thank the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and all its affiliated doctors for giving me a life that I can be proud of. In the time since my numerous operations, I have made connections with many and enjoyed developing my passions and interests. At the University of MinnesotaTwin Cities, I am a pre-medical student majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Computer Science. I volunteer at a research lab at the university and am a member of sorority Alpha Gamma Delta. In my pursuit of excellence, I hope that I can become a part of the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation as a physician, a mentor, and an individual who has personally experienced the miracles that the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation performs.