As a child battling cancer and facing the reality of my own mortality at a young age, I missed many opportunities my peers enjoyed. The experiences I did have, however, significantly shaped my perspective and allowed me to develop a level of focus and maturity beyond my years. Looking back, I can see that my health journey and recovery from cancer treatments taught me patience, gratitude, empathy, and compassion as well as fueled my enthusiasm, gave me the courage it takes to accept others, and to persevere through difficulties.
As I look ahead to college and beyond, I intend to complete a finance degree at Indiana University so that I can provide quality financial services to non-profits and/or socially responsible companies upon graduation. This desire to work for non-profits is rooted in my love for Camp Sunshine, a camp I’ve attended since I was seven years old. Camp Sunshine allowed me to be a kid again when cancer isolated me from my friends, kept me from attending school, and stopped me from participating in sports. It made me realize that I want to pursue a course of study that will assure the ongoing financial viability of such entities so that others like me, as well as those who are underserved members of my community, can and will have access to the same experiences.
Above all, Camp Sunshine is an amazing place and has been the highlight of my summer for eleven years! Each time I step off the bus, I am greeted like a rockstar by a cheering crowd of counselors who make me feel so excited to finally be back at camp! It is my oasis of diversity and inclusion where I have always felt a strong sense of belonging and comfort while also being a source of comfort and healing for my family. Because, unlike the outside world, Camp Sunshine tells you that it is your differences, and all you’ve been through to acquire them, that make you so unique, special, and deserving. This camp experience, like the cancer journey itself, has also shaped my personality and become a part of my core.
This is an excerpt from an essay by Welles Mason, a recipient of a Camp Sunshine scholarship. Welles is a student at Indian University.
The Sally J. Hale Scholarship Fund at Camp Sunshine supports former campers who have demonstrated a commitment to completing their education by attending a college or technical school. For more information on making a gift to support this special fund, contact Alicia Brady at email@example.com or 404-325-7979.