Meet the 2020 Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship Recipients

Project Sleep is proud to introduce the 27 recipients of the 2020 Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship program. This is by far the largest class of recipients to date, with each student receiving $1,000 towards their college education.

“During such a challenging year, elevating and honoring students living with under-recognized sleep conditions is particularly meaningful,” describes Julie Flygare, J.D., President & CEO at Project Sleep. “The 2020 recipients are a diverse group of young adults with a wide variety of aspirations and goals, yet all possess remarkable resiliency and determination that will serve them well as they take on college this fall.”

Sixty-four students from 29 states made up a very strong group of applicants this year. The 27 recipients represent 18 states and include 21 students with narcolepsy and six students with idiopathic hypersomnia, thanks to a wonderful partnership with the Hypersomnia Foundation providing generous support for the six idiopathic hypersomnia spots.

The Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship was co-founded by Flygare and the Graham family as the first national scholarship program of its kind in 2014. In seven years, the program has now awarded a total of 95 scholarships to 95 students, totaling $95,000. In addition to supporting the educational aspirations of students with narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia, the program shines light on serious but often overlooked sleep conditions and fosters community.

“Low public awareness of narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia leads to long delays in proper detection and diagnosis, along with high levels of stigma and isolation,” said Flygare. “Especially in difficult times, these courageous young adults remind us that our community is strong with shared experiences of overcoming adversity. We are not alone!”

Meet the 2020 Scholarship Recipients

Laila

Flossmoor, IL

Laila was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in eighth grade after years of symptoms. Determined not to let her diagnoses affect her inclusion in high school, she took AP classes, played two varsity sports, and was inducted into multiple honors societies. She is excited to attend Purdue University Northwest as an honors student and will major in biology. Laila hopes to work at a zoo and become certified in wildlife rehabilitation.

Tanner

Green Bay, WI

Tanner was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia in his junior year after struggling with the symptoms for years. In high school, he dedicated much of his time to Esports Club and coding. He is a two-time Wisconsin High School Esports League champion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and is six months into the development of his own video game. In the fall, he will study computer science with a focus in game design and development at University of Wisconsin – Stout.

Lily

Atlanta, GA

Lily was diagnosed with narcolepsy without cataplexy the summer before her senior year. Despite the challenges, she graduated top 10% of her class with awards in leadership and visual arts. Throughout high school, she was a member of student government and multiple honor societies. She loves to bake, paint, volunteer, and travel. In the fall, Lily will attend Georgia Institiute of Technology to major in industrial design. She wants to study abroad and eventually work with design in the medical field.

Laura Dawn

Hudson, WI

Laura Dawn was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy during her junior year in high school after struggling with symptoms for years. While Laura Dawn’s narcolepsy has posed many challenges, it has also taught her valuable lessons about self-love and self-acceptance. Throughout it all, Laura Dawn has participated in many activities such as the swim & dive team, National Honor Society, her high school’s HealthCare Academy, and HOSA, where she was elected Chapter President this past year. In June, she graduated in the top 3% of her class. Laura Dawn will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall, pursuing a degree in biology and pre-medicine. She hopes to work in the healthcare field as a pediatric oncologist.

Mya

Baltimore, MD

Mya was diagnosed with narcolepsy in eighth grade but symptoms began around second grade. As a child, Mya was always sleepy or sleeping in class and it made it hard for her to pay attention. While undiagnosed, she still achieved good grades and participated in cheerleading, track, tennis, and dance class. After diagnosis, treatment made it easier for Mya to achieve things. In high school, she became president of the Spanish Honor Society and a member of three other honor societies as well as joining the cheerleading and basketball team while maintaining good grades. Her message to others with narcolepsy is to see this condition as an opportunity to approach your goals differently so you can achieve them. This fall, Mya will attend University of Maryland College Park to major in architecture.

Brady

Burns, OR

Brady was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy his freshman year of high school. It took a lot of time to adjust to the new situation and even more time trying to find the right medication. This didn’t stop Brady from doing what he loves most and that is team roping. He qualified for the National High School Finals rodeo last year. He has also been a member of the National Honor Society throughout high school. Brady plans to attend Eastern Oregon University this fall to study in the nursing program. He wants to give patients the same great experience with doctors and nurses that he has had.

Catherine

Attalla, AL

Catherine was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia during her junior year in high school. Although navigating a sleep disorder and high school simultaneously is a big challenge, Catherine never let it hold her back. At her high school, she founded a club to give the students with disabilities a better chance at community and friendship. She was also a member of various clubs such as National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Beta Club. This fall, Catherine plans to study communication disorders and English at Auburn University.

Kayden

Round Rock, TX

Kayden was diagnosed with narcolepsy without cataplexy during the middle of his senior year, having untreated symptoms that date back to middle school. Despite this, Kayden was class president for three years, on the varsity tennis team, and had a part-time job at a local pizzeria. Outside of school, he enjoys the outdoors and art. Kayden will attend Rice University, planning to major in chemical and biomolecular engineering with hopes of continuing his education to obtain a doctoral degree in health and/or law to work in the public or non-profit sectors.

Isabella

Scarsdale, NY

Isabella was diagnosed with narcolepsy in May 2018 and although it’s the hardest thing she has faced, she has learned to cope in her own way. Being an artist since she was young, Isabella quickly learned that art was an important coping mechanism and distraction. She has also been part of the cheerleading program at her school since second grade and did not let narcolepsy stop her. This past February, her team went to UCA Nationals. Next, Isabella will head to The New School in Manhattan in hopes of becoming an art therapist.

Luke

Muscatine, IA

Luke was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia at the age of 17 after struggling with sleep issues for four years. Having idiopathic hypersomnia has been a struggle in his life, but he has not allowed it to define who he is. Some of his favorite hobbies are reading, making music, and hanging out with his friends. This fall, Luke will major in criminal justice on a pre-law track at Iowa State University.

Trinity

Flowery Branch, GA

Trinity was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy in the seventh grade. She has shown her strong will and determination by being a part of several clubs and has made the honor roll every year. Trinity’s diagnosis helped her find her true love for baking and she even owns her very own cake pop business called Treats By Trinity. In the fall, Trinity will attend Georgia State University to pursue a degree in neuroscience. She then hopes to transfer to the University of South Florida College of Medicine to specialize in sleep medicine research.

Kaitey

Clinton, SC

After several years of battling symptoms, Kaitey was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy during her senior year. Throughout high school, she played varsity sports including tennis and soccer, became a leader in the arts, maintained a part-time job, and served local and global communities through her church’s mission program and youth group. She graduated with high academic honors and will be attending Anderson University this fall majoring in art education.

Amber

Aumsville, OR

After years of struggling with different medications, and doctors, Amber was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy the day before her senior year started. It was a challenge at first, but having narcolepsy has shown Amber what strength really is. She loves working with animals and volunteering at her local Humane Society. This fall, Amber will attend Oregon State University to major in animal sciences and minor in biology, with plans to continue on to become a licensed veterinarian.

Vanessa

West Palm Beach, FL

Vanessa was diagnosed with narcolepsy halfway through her junior year of high school. At the time, she had just completed her second year playing for her school’s varsity golf team, and had just begun her second year on the girl’s varsity soccer team. Vanessa was a part of the National Honor Society, Key Club International, Women Of Tomorrow, Campus Life, and two theatric productions. This fall, she will study psychology at Florida Atlantic University.

Joey

Hopkins, MN

Joey was diagnosed with narcolepsy the fall of his junior year, and has been overcoming the symptoms ever since. In high school, Joey was very active in his school community. He was a multi-sport athlete and was a captain of his high school baseball team. Joey graduated near the top of his class and will attend Indiana State University in the fall, studying business and playing baseball.

Rachel

Cedar Falls, IA

Rachel was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in eighth grade after many years of experiencing symptoms. Through it all, she’s refused to let her diagnosis control her life. With positivity, resilience, determination, and lots of naps, she’s enjoyed being involved in her school, church, 4-H program, and community. On the rare occasion she has a bit of free time, she loves to be out in nature on adventures with her friends and family. She also loves doing anything and everything involving art and design. This fall, Rachel will pursue a degree in landscape architecture at Iowa State University.

Samuel

Prescott, AZ

Samuel was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in the eighth grade after one long year of untreated symptoms, sleep tests, and many unanswered questions. Despite the social and academic challenges his condition produced, Samuel was able to remain perseverant and discover his path to success in high school. He participated in student government as well as his high school mock trial team. Samuel looks forward to studying Spanish language and political science at Northern Arizona University this fall.

Pheobe

Stafford, VA

Phoebe was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia at the beginning of her senior year after over a year of looking for a diagnosis. Despite this, she worked hard to succeed in her AP classes and graduated with honors. In high school, she was very active in the band program and participated in concert, jazz, and marching band. Outside of the classroom, she made time to train and compete with her horse. Phoebe will attend Ohio State University, majoring in biology with a minor in criminal justice to pursue her goals of becoming a forensic scientist.

Maya

Murrysville, PA

Maya developed symptoms of narcolepsy in the spring of second grade and was diagnosed in the fall of third grade. It took her years to be willing to share this with teachers and friends and once she did, she found that people were understanding. Maya adapted to having narcolepsy by being organized and managing her time well. This allowed her to challenge herself to take difficult classes and participate in extracurricular activities like marching band and musicals. Maya will attend Duquesne University for a five year Master’s program in speech language pathology. She would like to work with children with special needs and disabilities.

Madison

Fairfax, VA

Madison is living with idiopathic hypersomnia, which can be frustrating, but Madison finds that once you figure out a routine that works for you it gets a lot easier. The hardest part for Madison has been trying to explain the condition to other people. Her hobbies include cooking and baking and she will attend Johnson and Wales in the fall to study baking and pastry and food and beverage management with a minor in sommelier.

Giselle

Lockport, NY

Giselle was diagnosed with narcolepsy at the age of nine after experiencing symptoms for over a year. Despite fatigue, Giselle continues to strive for success. Giselle graduated among the top of her class being a member of National Honors Society. She served as class secretary, was a four year member of the varsity cheer team and an avid member of DECA among other clubs. In the fall, Giselle will attend Syracuse University to major in international relations. She will also be cheering for Syracuse. Afterwards, Giselle plans to attend law school.

Laura

Cincinnati, OH

Laura was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia in her junior year of high school, after experiencing symptoms since kindergarten. Everyone in Laura’s life knew she couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. Despite the obstacles, she was a varsity cheerleader and graduated with high honors. Laura had amazing teachers who inspired her to achieve my full potential, and she aspires to do the same for other kids. Laura will attend Kent State University this year as a middle school education major.

Corissa

Austin, TX

Corissa was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy at the end of her junior year of high school. Learning to self advocate for herself was a challenge and is something she continues to work towards. Corissa will attend the University of North Texas to study environmental science and art. Her ultimate goal is to help make sustainability more accessible, no matter one’s income level, while continuing her passion for visual art. In her free time, Corissa also expresses her love for music by singing and playing the ukulele and electric guitar.

Kevin

Fairfax, VA

Kevin was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in fourth grade after about two years of testing. He initially struggled to accept the diagnosis but eventually realized that narcolepsy didn’t have to be all that defined him. While in high school Kevin played lacrosse and ultimate frisbee and volunteered through his church. In the fall, Kevin plans to attend George Mason University where he will study mechanical engineering.

Amanda

Dublin, OH

Amanda was diagnosed with narcolepsy without cataplexy when she was 17. Despite the struggle of her symptoms, she volunteered in the community, was an officer in Key Club, inducted into National Honor Society and continued her dancing career, which began at the age of three. Her three year journey to a diagnosis has inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. She will attend The Ohio State University in the fall as a pre-med student.

Ryan

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

After years of coping with symptoms, Ryan was officially diagnosed with narcolepsy in his sophomore year. Nevertheless, he excelled in high school, graduating with a perfect GPA, serving as Senior Class President, and earning the title of valedictorian. He will attend University of Southern California in the fall as an honors student majoring in chemical engineering with an emphasis in sustainable energy.

Meghan

Webster, NY

Meghan was diagnosed with narcolepsy without cataplexy her junior year of high school. In school, she loved to participate in Model United Nations and is a member of the National Honor Society. Meghan enjoys reading, traveling, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. This fall, she will study international affairs at George Washington University.

Thank You

As a valued member of our community, we hope you feel proud reading about the scholarship recipients, as funds are raised through Project Sleep’s annual fundraising campaigns and gifts from thoughtful individuals and families. Likewise, Project Sleep would like to extend a special thank you to the Hypersomnia Foundation, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Harmony Biosciences, LLC for their generous contributions that also supported the 2020 program.

About Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Narcolepsy is a neurological condition affecting 1 in 2,000 people worldwide. Symptoms include excessive sleepiness, cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness triggered by emotions), sleep paralysis, and frightening hallucinations while falling asleep or waking up. Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH) is a chronic neurological disorder marked by an insatiable need to sleep that is not eased by a full night’s slumber.

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Project Sleep is a 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting big dreams. Your tax-deductible gift makes a HUGE difference in advancing our programs including the Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship. Make a gift today.

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