Video: UCB Scholarship Awards Ease Tuition Costs for 31 Students Battling Crohn's Disease

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 General News
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More than $1 million in scholarships granted by UCB to exceptional students pursuing higher education

ATLANTA, Oct. 21 -- UCB today announced the 31 recipients of the fourth annual UCB Crohn's Scholarship, awarded to outstanding

students of all ages who are living beyond the boundaries of Crohn's disease. To date, the company has granted more than $1 million to individuals pursuing their educational dreams. The 2009 winners are a stellar group of men and women who excel in school, sports, volunteerism and activism despite living with Crohn's disease, a debilitating, chronic gastrointestinal (GI) illness in which the body's immune system attacks healthy cells in the GI tract. They will be honored at an awards dinner on Saturday, October 24, in San Diego, Calif.

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"The UCB Crohn's Scholarship is so important because it gives people with Crohn's a voice and an opportunity to achieve their dreams in the face of this unremitting disease," said Dr. Marla Dubinksy, Co-Chair of the Crohn's Scholarship Selection Committee and Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "These scholarship winners are an inspiration to others living with the disease; they prove that it's possible to be successful academically, professionally and personally while living with Crohn's."

Half a million Americans have Crohn's disease, which not only has physical symptoms, like severe stomach cramping, bloating and fatigue, but also leaves many with the disease feeling isolated because of sudden flare-ups, the need to be near a bathroom and symptoms that are sometimes difficult to discuss. That's one of the reasons why it's so important that these scholarship winners are speaking out.

"Talking about having Crohn's has been part of the healing process for me," said 2009 scholarship winner and third-grade teacher, Abby Ryan. "Everywhere I've spoken about my experience with Crohn's, people have come up to me afterwards to hug me, or cry with me, because they really needed to hear: you are not alone."

Ryan, 26, was diagnosed with Crohn's at just 14-months-old, and through the years underwent surgeries that required her to wear an external ostomy bag and left her with scars across her midsection. Instead of feeling discouraged, Ryan used her Crohn's disease as inspiration and made it her platform in Miss America competitions, raising awareness of the disease and sharing her story with thousands of people. To further her career as an educator, Ryan is going back to school to earn her master's degree at Viterbo University to become a reading specialist in La Crosse, Wis.

UCB is proud to empower people with Crohn's to help realize their dreams through the Crohn's Scholarship Program. Since the creation of the program in 2006, UCB has granted more than $1 million in scholarships of up to $10,000 each to a total of 105 winners.

"Each scholarship winner is unique but they all share this strong determination to triumph over adversity," said Bert Kelly, Communications and Public Relations Manager, UCB. "It's been a privilege to meet the winners and help them on their path to success."

Applications for the 2010 Crohn's Scholarship Program will be accepted from October 21, 2009 through February 12, 2010. For information on how to apply, or to learn more about Crohn's disease and the scholarship winners, log on to or visit the Crohn's & Me Facebook page.

2009 Crohn's Scholarship Recipients

Recipients were considered based on their applications, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. The 2009 recipients (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Thomas Barnes, 19, Georgetown University
  • Lauren Belanger, 20, Azusa Pacific University
  • Sarah Binning, 23, University of CaliforniaDavis Law School
  • Peter Birke, 18, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Kathleen Bohlmann, 19, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Mary Kate Cash, 18, Duke University
  • William Costagliola, 18, Virginia Tech
  • Margo Davis, 18, Colorado College
  • Luci Ferraro, 22, New York Institute of Technology
  • Abigayle Feuerstein, 19, Arizona State University
  • Alexis Finnerty, 21, Syracuse University
  • Sarah Helfrich, 30, California State UniversityFullerton
  • Ryan Hussey, 19, University of WisconsinStevens Point
  • Frank Kemper, 19, Rowan University
  • Kierra Lee, 18, Texas A&M University
  • Caitlin Littlejohn, 18, Purdue University – West Lafayette
  • Tyler Lundy, 19, Grays Harbor Community College
  • Brianna Moffitt, 19, Pitzer College
  • Allison Nagler, 18, Connecticut College
  • Mashalle Olomi, 17, University of CaliforniaBerkeley
  • Roxanne Parker, 18, University of California – Davis
  • Katherine Raderstorf, 19, John Carroll University
  • Mona Rezapour, 26, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Kristofer Rivers, 19, Wilkes University
  • Abby Ryan, 26, Viterbo University
  • Amanda Schlak, 24, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
  • Carly Sorenson, 19, University of MinnesotaTwin Cities
  • Logan Thornton, 33, University of Texas School of Public Health
  • Susan Tripodi, 51, Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing
  • Jennifer Walker, 24, University of Washington School of Dentistry
  • Cheryl Ward, 44, Indiana Wesleyan University

About the UCB Crohn's Scholarship Program

The UCB Crohn's Scholarship Program is designed for students of any age. Applicants must be a legal and permanent resident of the United States; diagnosed with Crohn's disease by a physician; seeking an associate's, undergraduate, or graduate degree or enrolled in a trade school educational program; enrolled in or awaiting acceptance from a United States-based institution of higher education for the fall semester of the application year and a student who embraces a way of life that overcomes the challenges of living with Crohn's disease. Selection of recipients will be at the sole discretion of the judges chosen by UCB, which include a panel of medical professionals from across the country. Additional information about eligibility and requirements is available at

About Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic, progressive and debilitating inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, affecting more than 500,000 people in the United States. While Crohn's is a lifelong chronic condition, most people are diagnosed in their late teens and early twenties. Many Americans living with Crohn's often feel isolated and limit social activities because of the constant pain and fatigue they experience, as well as the fear of an immediate need to find a public restroom as a result of the disease. Often the embarrassing nature of the disease forces those afflicted to battle Crohn's disease alone, as people find it difficult to share their experience with others.

About UCB

UCB, Brussels, Belgium ( is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the research, development and commercialization of innovative medicines with a focus on the fields of central nervous system and immunology disorders. Employing approximately 10,000 people in over 40 countries, UCB produced revenue of 3.6 billion euro in 2008. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB). U.S. headquarters is located in Atlanta, Ga.


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