(AFA, July 6, 2022)
Birmingham, MI – The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) named Jonathan Marx, of Birmingham, MI, the third-place winner of its national 2022 Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest and awarded him a $2,500 college scholarship. Jonathan was chosen from nearly 1,800 entries nationwide for his essay about his paternal grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, which inspired him to study the brain and neuroscience.
“Jonathan’s heartwarming essay about his grandmother and the impact that she had on his life is a prime example of how Alzheimer’s disease affects people of all ages,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “It also served as an example of how a loved one can influence and inspire someone to make a difference in the lives of others and the community around them. It is truly inspiring. We congratulate Jonathan on being chosen as a winner in this competition and thank him for sharing his story.”
Jonathan’s essay focuses on his paternal grandmother, Mame’ Paulette, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease in France, and his relationship with her. He describes childhood memories of playing with her at her home and nearby park and breaking through the language barrier by connecting through music and laughter.
When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago, it inspired Jonathan. In his freshman year, he discovered the Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition. He started learning about the brain and took a specific interest in the subject of music in the brain, based on the experiences he had with his grandmother.
“Music is important to me, and it plays a central role in my heritage and culture. Even now, when my grandmother might not recognize my face, she recognizes the tunes of her past, opera songs, and the hits of yesterday,” Jonathan wrote. “Paulette often enjoys such attempts at bringing her past to life again, and during such moments, I feel as though we can still connect…I would never have felt the same drive to learn more about music and its effect without her influence.”
Throughout his time in high school, Jonathan continued to pursue his passion for neuroscience, joining the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) and learning about topics such as neuroethics, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), and Closed-Loop DBS. Jonathan, who recently graduated from the International Academy Okma, will continue studying neuroscience at the University of Michigan this fall.
Jonathan wrote, “In my struggle to cope with not just Alzheimer’s but other neurological disorders and diseases, I have found peace in knowledge. I still attempt, and will continue, to try and connect with my grandmother. If it had not been for my familial connections to neurological disorders and diseases, I would not be in the same spot I find myself in today. I implore everyone with the desire to know about how something affects others to go ahead and research it.”
AFA’s annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest asks high school seniors to describe how Alzheimer’s disease has impacted their lives, what they have learned about themselves, their families, and their community in the face of this disease, and what their plans are for bringing awareness to the disease in the future. This year, AFA awarded almost $90,000 in college scholarships to 117 students from across the country.
For more information about AFA’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest, call AFA at 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.