Samantha Schwindel of Spencer County, IN., was awarded the 2017 “Strong Arm” Leukemia Scholarship. Samantha, 20, will graduate from Indiana University, Bloomington, this spring, and later attend the University of Louisville ‘s School of Social Work. This serious student has a 3.843 GPA and is majoring in psychology with minors in Spanish and social welfare advocacy. She is determined to honor her brother, Chris, who died of Acute Lymphatic Leukemia as a teen-ager. Chris was diagnosed at 15 in 1998. Samantha will specialize in Psychosocial Oncology so that she can help families maneuver the many twists and turns of a cancer diagnosis.
Interview with Samantha Schwindel
Applicants for this scholarship must write a 500- to 1,000-word essay on one of three topics. Samantha answered the question: “How has living with your or your loved one’s leukemia affected your education?”
In her essay, Samantha told the tender story of how she, as a toddler, would accompany her mother and brother on a weekly trip to Riley’s Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The car ride was three hours one way from their home in rural southern Indiana to the state capital. Her mother, Sharon, has often told Samantha that the toddler offered Chris comfort, relief and normalcy during his eight-hour treatments. The two siblings would cuddle, eat French fries and watch movies in the antiseptic environment of a chemo room.
Samantha said she is somewhat envious of her five older siblings who have fond memories of Chris before he became ill. She spent a lot of her youth trying to reconstruct memories of a healthy Chris. A college psychology class taught her that that exercise was fruitless. It was then that she became determined to help other families.
Samantha has learned a lot about what she calls “life after loss.”
“Even though that person is no longer with you, you can still carry them with you, and it’s really just a beautiful process.”
Parents Sharon Schwindel and Mike Schwindel — both live in rural Spencer County — also have one son (who was Chris’ twin) and four more daughters.
For a life so defined by leukemia, Samantha has much insight to offer the rest of us. Individuals react differently to grief. “And their grief might vary day to day,” she said. It is important to offer our friends and loved ones support, even if they don’t accept our help.
“What psychology is showing is that even if you can’t give someone support right away, the idea that they can count on you for support is even more powerful than the support itself that you could give them,” she said.
You can read her full essay by clicking here.
Our firm founder, John Foy, funded this scholarship in 2015 to raise awareness for this often fatal disease. John Foy & Associates was founded in 1999 to provide protection and compensation for victims of another’s negligence. Today, with almost 30 attorneys and 70 paralegals, investigators and other support staffs, we are one of Atlanta’s most recognizable and respected personal injury law firms.
For more information on the scholarship or John Foy & Associates, contact Jody Davis, our Director of Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.