Sick And Tired And Successful

Renee Paniccia has a rare disease and an even rarer outlook on life.

Three years ago, the high school senior in Wyoming, Michigan, was diagnosed with Ehler-Danlos syndrome, which is actually a series of ailments all related to the skin, joints, and blood vessels. There is no cure.

Only 200,000 new cases are diagnosed yearly, so few people know about it — but Renee lives with it.

“I found myself not losing but instead gaining more motivation as my symptoms progressed,” Renee wrote in her application for the Scholarship For Aggressive Scholarship Applicants. “Being burdened with constant nausea and severe joint pain, I sacrificed my summers and weekends for doctor visits and physical therapy. Through months of bouncing from hospital to hospital, I never lost my determination to learn and further my education.”

That’s not the upbeat attitude I hear from many healthy college-bound students these days. She’s currently dual-enrolled at her local community college and works part-time at a Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Renee’s illness hasn’t dampened her spirits, but it has shaped her career goals.

“Before now, I’ve never come across an occupation that truly interests me and makes me want to learn more,” she says. “I was actually in a hospital bed, researching different jobs, when I chose computer programming as my new career outlook.”

Obviously, someone like Renee isn’t going to get discouraged if she gets turned down for some scholarships — an inevitable part of the process.

Searching for scholarships has become incredibly easy, with hundreds of scholarship search engines just a click away,” she says, once again looking on the bright side. “Taking the time out to apply for scholarships can really pay off. Remember: deadlines are important. There are a ton of scholarships out there, all ending at different times in the year. Applying early and applying to as many qualifying scholarships as you can will greatly increase your chances of winning.”

That — and applying for dozens of other scholarships — is what earned Renee the sixth installment of’s $500 scholarship. The seventh opens tomorrow. Will you apply?

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