The Eye-Bank recognizes outstanding students with the Young Ambassador Scholarship in Memory of Christopher Nordquist. The annual $3,000 award to an eligible student is made possible through private contributions given to The Eye-Bank in memory of Christopher, who was two when he died and left the gift of sight.
Through the years, his mother Andrea Nordquist has shared the story of their family’s loss and subsequent decision to donate Christopher’s corneas in hopes of increasing awareness of the good that eye donation can do. In this way, Christopher became one of The Eye-Bank’s first Young Ambassadors. The Scholarship in his memory is intended to encourage young people to pursue learning and to help spread the message about the priceless gift almost anyone can leave after death – the gift of sight through eye donation.
YOUNG AMBASSADOR SCHOLARSHIP CRITERIA
To apply, students must meet all of the following requirements:
- Reside within The Eye-Bank’s service area: New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley (Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange Counties).
- Be a student no more than 25 years of age who is enrolled, in a 2 or 4-year college, university, trade or technical school for the current academic year at the time of application deadline.
- Complete the online Scholarship Application by May 15, 2022.
- Use the scholarship award for continuing education at an accredited university, college, trade or technical school certificate program.
- Write a short essay, 1-2 typewritten pages, doubled-spaced, describing an educational or public service initiative in which the student participated that promoted eye, organ and tissue donation such as distributing brochures or speaking to a class or club (eye information must be included).
- Applicants may contact The Eye-Bank in advance for project ideas and use the promotional materials provided below.
- Provide two references from current school (high school or college).
- Provide a current official transcript.
- Provide an acceptance letter from the college, university or trade/technical school the applicant plans to attend (high school seniors).
Applicants are encouraged to focus on projects utilizing social media outreach to encourage New Yorkers to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry via smartphone, laptop or computer. Applicants may request a designated URL to track Donate Life Registry enrollments (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). The URL would be active from the date provided until May 15, 2022.
Applicants may use information from The Eye-Bank’s website for their project to increase awareness about eye, organ and tissue donation.
The following pdf promotional tools have also been made available:
Link to videos
We look forward to receiving your application.
YOUNG AMBASSADOR SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS.
The 2021 Young Ambassador Scholarship winner and recipient of the $3,000 award is Shanaiyah Brown. A resident of New York City, Shanaiyah is a sophomore at SUNY Binghamton. As part of her winning project, Shanaiyah raised awareness about the importance of eye donation on social media by producing a compelling slideshow on the issue including how to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry and urging friends to re-post the slides. Her passion for advocating for eye, organ and tissue donation comes from caring for her mother who is battling kidney disease and is on the organ transplant waiting list.
The 2020 Young Ambassador Scholarship winner and recipient of the $3,000 award is Madeleine Olivia Butchko. Madeleine is currently a freshman at Rhode Island’s Providence College, having graduated in June, 2020 from Warwick Valley High School in Orange County. As part of her winning project, Madeleine created awareness about the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation via social media by posting information and Registry sign-up links on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook which were shared by many. Madeleine also conducted community outreach efforts by distributing flyers to Warwick EMS where she was a volunteer, to students at her high school and at her optician’s office. This year’s winner says she is grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about and share information about the good donation can do.
Keli Evelin Lopez is the recipient of the 2019 Young Ambassador Scholarship award in the amount of $3,000. The Suffolk county resident successfully promoted the donation message with a particular focus on eye donation resulting in individuals signing up in the Donate Life Registry. At three separate tabling events, Keli invited those visiting her table to close their eyes and smell the two dozen roses she had placed in a vase – simulating the feeling of not having sight for a brief moment so they could more fully relate to her message of donation and sight restoration. Her table display included a backdrop photo of a larger than life tiger’s eyes over the message “…your Eyes can live forever, DONATE!” This compelling visual and message captivated her audience and persuaded them to take action and sign up in the NYS Donate Life Registry and 30 New Yorkers did so. Currently, Keli is pursuing studies in Court Reporting.
Katherine Edell, a graduate of South Side High School in Rockville Center, created awareness about donation among beachgoers in her Long Island community by distributing brochures and promotional materials as well as establishing an eye, organ and tissue donation informational booth at the café where she works as a barista. Katherine also utilized social media, sharing a photo about donation and a link to The Eye-Bank’s Facebook’s page with her 669 Instagram followers. Her efforts resulted in more than 40 people enrolling in the New York State Donate Life Registry as potential eye, organ and tissue donors.
Lauren Shields attended Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia, NY and has engaged in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of eye, organ and tissue donation since she received a heart transplant at the age of 9. Her volunteer work helped to establish Lauren’s Law which makes the option of joining the NYS Donate Life Registry a required field when applying for a driver’s license and she advocated to lower the Registry enrollment age from 18 to 16 years. In seeking to create awareness about the good donation can do, Lauren shares her personal transplant story at various events, including Naturalization ceremonies where she encourages new citizens to sign-up to be donors.
Flor Centeno, a Nassau Community College sophomore, is the 2017 winner of The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration’s Young Ambassador Scholarship. Flor was awarded the scholarship for successfully promoting the message of eye, organ and tissue donation at the college’s Spring Festival. She distributed flyers, educated attendees and assisted those interested in signing-up in the New York State Donate Life Registry. In addition to conducting a tabling event, the Social Work major posted information about donation in both English and Spanish to her Facebook page which received several ‘likes’ and was also ‘shared’. She headed her post with the following quote from Sir Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Flor provided factual information about the critical need for organs and tissue and emphasized the importance of signing up in the Donate Life Registry. Her clarion call to New Yorkers was “Just say YES!” to eye, organ and tissue donation.
Tamara Aqil is enrolled in the undergraduate nursing program at Excelsior College with plans to advance her career. Currently a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Elmhurst Hospital, Tamara delivered an informative presentation about eye, organ and tissue donation to her fellow operating room nurses. To enhance her presentation, she created an eye-catching standing visual that offered key factual information about donation. She also created a video titled, Change the Way You See Things, capturing New York City’s amazing sights which she posted to YouTube. Her video culminated with a message urging New Yorkers to “Sign up in the Donate Life Registry and give the gift of sight.”
A graduating senior at Lindenhurst High School, Charles Hager was inspired to create greater awareness about donation once he understood the good it can accomplish. As a volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital, Charles arranged to conduct a tabling event on the same day as the hospital’s blood drive in order to benefit from the increased pedestrian traffic. He researched information about eye, organ and tissue donation, so that he would be well informed and able to interact with visitors and staff throughout the day, providing brochures, answering questions and giving information. He emphasized that all major religions support donation, that there is no cost to donate and that it is important to enroll in the Donate Life Registry. In the fall, Charles will pursue the field of Dentistry in a program offered jointly by Adelphi University and New York University, College of Dentistry.