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From Cancer to College by Alexa Ferrell

May 3rd, 2018

My name is Alexa Ferrell. I was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma in 6th grade when I was 12. All of my doctors and nurses knew I was a little bit of a rebel. I would ask to bring my deer mount to my room and sneak outside. 

As a kid, I would give anything to be outside and with any animal I could find. If it weren’t for cancer, I would have never gotten the chance to experience Indian Summer Camp and make lifelong friendships. After being a camper for 10 years, I went back as a volunteer counselor. I wanted to make the kids feel the same kind of safety, belonging, and acceptance I felt coming to camp for the first time. 

I went on complete my Bachelors of Science degree in Agriculture (emphasis in pre-veterinary medicine) with a minor in Chemistry at Eastern Kentucky University in three years. In my third year, I was given the opportunity to apply for the Kids Cancer Alliance Survivor Scholarship program. Low and behold, I was selected to receive the 4 year scholarship of $7,500/year. I was in shock and awe! Without this scholarship, I would not only be more in debt, but I would have missed out on some amazing experiences during my education. 

I am now a 4th year veterinary student in my clinical year at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. I know! I can’t believe it either! Without the scholarship money from Kids Cancer Alliance, I would not be where I am today. I have been able to attend symposiums and conferences pertaining to my field of interest, EXOTICS & WILDLIFE.  I have shadowed at the Louisville Zoo, and this past summer I completed an externship at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio. Coming up in my educational travels, I will be heading to the Denver Zoo in Colorado for an externship and the Australia Zoo and Wildlife Hospital (Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Hospital!) to finish my training before receiving the title DVM. I will be spending my preceptorship at the Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel, Florida. 

Kids Cancer Alliance has been an amazing support throughout my cancer journey. I can’t thank Kids Cancer Alliance enough!