By Life Coach Spotter

The 2017 Scholarship Winner

Kayla Lockwood

Indiana University, senior

Award:  $1,000

August 15, 2017

We are pleased to announce Kayla Lockwood as the winner of The 2017 Life Coach Spotter Scholarship for $1,000. Kayla, a senior from Bloomington, IN, was selected from a pool of almost 40 candidates. Candidates had to submit an essay and video, both detailing overcoming a personal challenge, and proof of enrollment in an accredited university.

Kayla composed an incredibly moving essay and video explaining how her life has been affected by the autoimmune disease, lupus. When Kayla was just 15, she lost her best friend, Kaitlyn, to the disease. In a terrible coincidence, Kayla was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 19. Kayla then knew what her purpose in life would be – to work towards better diagnosis and treatment for lupus patients. She would fight this disease for Kaitlyn but also herself.

Today, Kayla leads monthly lupus support groups in Indiana – both online and in her community – and strives everyday to make herself physically stronger to fight the disease. She has gone to our nation’s capital to speak with Congressmen about lupus research funding and successfully helped to increase funding by $5 million. She has changed her major at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs to Management to work towards helping others in the nonprofit sector. She is doing all this while dealing with the daily struggles of lupus. Kayla is a true inspiration and we are proud to provide her with this scholarship. Congratulations, Kayla!

Applications for the 2018 scholarship contest open as of August 15, 2017.

 

Kayla’s Winning YouTube Video Essay

Watch Kayla’s winning video essay on YouTube here.

 

Kayla’s Winning Essay

I was first introduced to the term “lupus” by my best friend Kaitlyn. In middle school, Kaitlyn and I had mud fights at carnivals and we would dance to Beyonce’s “Halo” at the school dances. In high school, she jokingly proposed to me with a ring pop in front of a large crowd and we also rode a kiddie rollercoaster and fake screamed like it was the scariest ride of our lives. If I was upset, she would be standing outside my classroom door ready to pull me into a hug. In early 2011 she showed me the spots on her stomach that she went to the doctor for and in that same day told me that if for some reason I ever died that she would talk to the sky as if I was still there.

My lupus journey began when Kaitlyn’s unexpectedly ended on September 15th, 2011, when she passed in her sleep from a blood clot due to lupus complications. We were 15. I never imagined that I would actually be the one talking to the sky. The hardest part was accepting that my best friend was gone and it was unfair she did not get to experience more in life. It completely rocked my world, but I vowed I would make a difference in her name somehow, someday.

Coincidentally, I went through the lupus diagnosis process when I was a freshman in college. It was scary news considering Kaitlyn did not survive her ride with lupus. I have had a mountain of health issues over the years but I do not feel like I can complain much as my symptoms are not as severe as others’. Raynaud’s and sun sensitivity are probably my least favorite symptoms, especially considering I challenged myself to be a lifeguard this summer while maintaining a job at the gym. I try to stay on top of my health and have made a lot of progress in weightlifting and a better diet to try to combat weakness and fatigue. I feel like I am at the doctor’s office way more than a 21 year old should be. I have seen rheumatologists, hematologists, dermatologists, and more recently a cardiologist. I fight for myself and am glad I am able to do so, not only for myself but in hopes of inspiring others who are going through some kind of struggle. I want to be a positive light to everyone I meet.

Kaitlyn had written in my yearbook that I always stick up for her. I have strived to keep true to this even in her absence and it has helped me cope tremendously. I joined the Lupus Foundation of America’s Indiana Chapter when I was trained to be a lupus support group facilitator for Bloomington. I lead a monthly support group to help lupus patients or those affected by it develop coping strategies, as well as be a friend who understands. I recently helped Eli Lilly shape clinical trials by telling them how they can make their trials more comfortable and accessible for lupus patients. I attended the Lupus National Policy Summit on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to elevate lupus on the nation’s healthcare agenda. I met with our Congressmen to tell them why lupus research funding needs to be increased. There is no cure for lupus. The diagnosis process is often lengthy and people like Kaitlyn do not have that kind of time. Only one drug has been approved by the FDA in 60 years for lupus, and most patients are treated with drugs for other diseases such as anti-malarial. More needs to be done so that those suffering can have better quality of life.

I want to be able to use my degree to push for the help that these lupus patients need, as well as anyone who needs assistance that I may encounter. I did not realize what degree I wanted right out of high school. It took me a while to come to terms with my passions. I am a transfer student pursuing SPEA after a long road of soul searching. I originally started school my freshman year at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, where I excelled and made the Dean’s List. I continued academic success and received my associate’s degree in education, magna cum laude, through Ivy Tech during my sophomore year. During my time as an education major, I was an assistant kindergarten teacher. I realized I loved helping kids and people, but did not feel as though it was the kind of impact I wanted to make. I wanted to be able to reach more people on a larger scale in a positive light.

I transferred to Indiana University Bloomington in hopes of making it into the Kelley School of Business. My course load was rigorous considering I had used up most of my “gen-eds” and was placed in almost all Kelley prerequisite classes. It was challenging for me, but I did my best and still managed to perform well. However, I was beginning to question whether this was the right place for my intended goals. My advisor then informed me about SPEA. The calm had finally come through the storm; SPEA contains non-profit and public components, which I love. I would love to make a difference in as many lives as I can. My dream is a world where there is a cure for lupus and autoimmune diseases. I have already found my SPEA-based classes this semester to be teaching me an abundance of useful information for making changes within policy, within others, and within myself. While I will never just “get over” Kaitlyn passing away, I am so thankful to have known such a wonderful person who has shaped a huge part of who I am today.

Life Coach Spotter
This blog post was edited and published by the blog team at Life Coach Spotter.