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Scholarship Winners Survive Family Hardships, Illness
Contact: Ann Hatch
For immediate release — June 22, 2017
(DALLAS) — Often, when people face adversity and overcome it, they choose a future path that reflects some part of their past struggles. Briana Morales, who survived a life filled with family crises and abuse, wants to help and heal others — especially four-legged friends who cannot speak for themselves — as a veterinarian.
Faith Akinmade persevered to win a lifetime battle with malaria and attend college in a foreign land; now she wants to help others by becoming a nurse and helping patients fight their medical battles, too.
Morales, a North Lake College student who is studying veterinary technology, and Akinmade, a nursing student at El Centro College, will both be recognized as the 2017-2018 recipients of the Dallas County Community College District’s Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship during a special awards dinner on Tues., June 27.
(Editors’ note: Members of the news media are welcome to attend the awards program honoring both students; the event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will held in the Falcone Room at Maggiano’s Little Italy, 205 North Park Center, Dallas.)
The scholarship, which is administered by the DCCCD Foundation, will help Morales and Akinmade reach for their dreams with financial support, special enrichment programming and mentoring from the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation scholarship award, which covers full tuition and books for up to six semesters.
Courage and Perseverance Are Honored
The courage and perseverance shown by both students in the face of adversity are traits exhibited by the person for whom the Kramp Foundation and scholarship is named. Erin Tierney Kramp, who fought breast cancer from 1994 to 1998, created a videotaped legacy on “life lessons” for her daughter, Peyton, prior to her death. The videotapes became tools that conveyed Erin’s views and advice to Peyton as the young girl grew up, following her mother’s death.
Erin touched many lives and inspired countless strangers when she co-authored “Living With the End in Mind” (written with her husband and a family friend) and through appearances on programs like “20/20” and the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” Winfrey featured the Kramp story/segment as one of her “most memorable guests” during a May 2011 farewell show as the program reached its historic end. Erin’s legacy lives on through the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation, its scholarship program and the lives of all its recipients.
“The Erin Tierney Kramp program awards scholarships to students based on their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Michael Brown, president of the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation. “Briana and Faith have both demonstrated these qualities throughout their lives and they will be wonderful additions to the Kramp family of past recipients.”
Brown added, “Their stories exemplify what all of our past recipients have demonstrated since the inception of the scholarship. When individuals face tremendous adversity, the struggles they endure will either make them stronger or defeat them. Winning that battle requires both courage and perseverance — traits possessed by all of our former recipients and certainly both new recipients as well.”
Briana Morales: Conquering a Broken Past, Becoming a Veterinarian
Briana Morales practically skipped her childhood and became an adult by the time she was a teenager. Her father and mother weren’t married when she was born, and her parents parted ways when she was a baby because her dad was addicted to alcohol and cocaine. A new step-dad only created more problems — fights between her mother, step-father and brother, as well as unwanted advances from Briana’s step-father, which only increased as time passed.
Once Briana told her teacher about the situation at home with her step-father, he was ejected from their home; her mother had to declare bankruptcy and then almost lost the house where they were living. Forced to work long hours in order to house and feed her children, Briana’s mom had a work schedule that left both children without supervision — a situation which led to problems for her brother and left Briana to deal with the lingering after-effects of the sexual abuse she had endured earlier.
Family relationships have been strained over the years, but Briana learned about responsibility as a teen when she became a dependable babysitter and then a hard-working employee at All Care Veterinarian Hospital. She was promoted to veterinary technician at the animal hospital and eventually became a full-time student at North Lake College. Now she wants to become a veterinarian.
“After I graduate, I would like to work at a small animal clinic for a while, where I can work on the skills I will have learned in vet school in an environment that I’m familiar with,” said Morales, who has earned a 3.6 grade point average at North Lake and who has volunteered to help an organization called Sole Hope. “Then I hope to work at an emergency clinic because I enjoy different cases and helping animals that are sick or injured. I hope to find a clinic where I can work until I retire. I thoroughly enjoy working with animals.”
Briana added, “Having the knowledge and abilities to do the work myself (with animals) would be a dream come true.”
Faith Akinmade: Overcoming Long-Term Illness, Becoming a Nurse
El Centro College nursing major Faith Akinmade knows how it feels to be sick frequently, and that’s why she wants to help other people — to ease their pain, take good care of them and encourage them. The Nigerian native, who came to the U.S. when she was 16, was diagnosed with malaria at age 11, a disease that continued to reappear throughout her life, taking her through a barrage of countless medications and eventually the need to stop taking anything because her kidneys and liver were in danger from the drugs.
As result, Faith couldn’t take any medication to ease her pain either, and she spent years at her boarding school, Mount Carmel Christian School, fighting pain as well as complications from her lingering battle with malaria: urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers and appendicitis. Despite those challenges, she studied hard and became the class prefect when she was in seventh grade. Faith was a serious student, and it showed in her work and her dedication to school. An honor roll student and award recipient for excellent academic performance, Akinmade took the next big step and came to America to attend college.
Faith misses her family, who continue to reside in Nigeria, but she shared her father’s words to her: “It’s the price I must pay to live a better life than he did.” She said, “I thought it would not be possible for me to live without my family. Sometimes I found myself thinking so much about it that I would hide myself and shed a tear. But I am not letting that stop me.”
Today, at El Centro, Faith serves as secretary for the school’s Multicultural Club and Mu Alpha Theta, and she also is a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda and Phi Theta Kappa. She serves as choir leader at her church, too.
Faith said, “Despite all of the adversities I have faced and still face, I have chosen to keep going and refuse to give up. I believe in helping people overcome their hardships, no matter how small they may be. It was not easy always falling ill and being set behind in class because I had missed school. It is not easy living in a foreign country without my parents or siblings. But I refuse to let my adversities restrict me from accomplishing my goals and reaching for the sky.”
Akinmade, who has a 4.0 GPA at El Centro College, eventually wants to earn her doctoral degree in nursing and to establish her own hospitals in both the U.S. and Nigeria. She would like to open other hospitals in other parts of Africa as well to help save people’s lives by fighting diseases that are passed from mother to child at birth or medical conditions that are the result of teratogens such as harmful herbs or inhaled smoke from cooking fires or substances that contain alcohol such as palm wine.
“Through these hospitals that I plan to establish, I will be able to educate women about the dangers of teratogens and raise public awareness about how much infants suffer from these diseases and teratogens,” she added.
For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation office by phone at 214-378-1536 or by email at
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