Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Never Give Up

Name: Mariana Maniscalco
From: Tonawanda, NY
Grade: 12
School: Kenmore East High School
Votes: 0

Never Give Up

Youth Forward Scholarship Essay

By Mariana Maniscalco

My name is Mariana Maniscalco, and I aspire to leave my mark on the
world by inspiring others to see the gifts in life and to never give
up, no matter the situation. I am uniquely qualified to do this
since I had a severe stroke my freshman year of high school that led
to three brain surgeries and an open-heart surgery during a six-month
hospital stay.

Surviving this experience led me to become a published author and helped me
appreciate the simple gifts every day has to offer. I do not let my
stroke define me. It has made me a more well-rounded person. It has
helped me understand the motivation, perseverance and passion that
every day deserves. I believe this will help me succeed in anything I
do. I give back to the community through organizations such as the
Special Olympics, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the National Honor

While I devote about 30 hours a school year to both the Special Olympics
and National Honor Society events, my favorite volunteer assignments
are for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which I have served as a
Western New York spokesperson the past three years. I was granted a
Make-A-Wish as a result of my traumatic brain injury and asked the
foundation to find a publisher for the book I wanted to write. They
did, and in March 2015 my dream became a reality. My book is titled:
“If Your Head Can’t, Your Heart Will . . . But What If That’s
Broken Too?” My goal in writing the book is to help others going
through any kind of health problem realize that they are not alone in
enduring the physical and emotional challenges they face. It’s to
give people perspective on how to take strength from their situation,
their family or their faith. I hope those who read the book will
embrace a more glass-half-full attitude toward whatever challenges
they face. I hope it inspires someone to tap into the resolve and
perseverance that exists inside of each of us.

I have made about 10 appearances at Make-A-Wish of WNY events over the
past two years. The most satisfying was when I donated the proceeds
of the initial sales of the book ($3,000) back to Make-A-Wish during
the foundation’s annual radio-thon in Buffalo, N.Y.

My experience as a hospital patient with a life-threatening illness has
made me look forward to how I can help others with debilitating
injuries. In the fall, I will enroll at D’Youville College, where I
will study to become an occupational therapist. I know from
experience how important it is for a therapist to create an emotional
connection with a patient. I love helping people and watching them
improve. After earning my degree, I think I will be comfortable with
my ability to connect with and motivate a wide variety of patients. I
also envision using my abilities throughout my adult life to continue
to help the Make-A-Wish impact the lives of young people in need.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".