Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Offers Annual College Scholarship

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Competition Provides Outlet to Educate, Engage Youth About Alzheimer’s Disease

For many teenagers, nothing in their lives prepares them for close encounters with an illness that seems so far-removed from their youth – Alzheimer’s disease. Yet the number of teens who witness this brain disorder in their own families or communities continues to grow along with the escalating incidence of Alzheimer’s disease nationwide.

In an effort to highlight teens’ experiences, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is encouraging college-bound students to apply for its 6th annual AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship. The competition is part of AFA’s award-winning AFA Teens division, which is designed to educate and raise awareness among teens about the brain disorder.

AFA will award $5,000 to the winner, and $500 and $250 to the first and second runners-up, respectively. The recipients must apply the award toward first-year tuition at a four-year college or university. The application deadline is February 15, 2013. For more details, visit

As part of the application process, students must write a 1,200 to 1,500 word essay that gives thoughtful consideration to “the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on their own lives and what they learned about themselves, their family and/or their community in coping with the disease.”

Alzheimer’s disease results in loss of memory, verbal skills and other cognitive functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans are currently diagnosed with the disease, and its prevalence is expected to rise in line with the nation’s aging population. While the disease primarily affects people 65 and older, a less common form, young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, strikes people as early as in their 30s.

“Alzheimer’s disease may be viewed as a disease that primarily affects older adults, but it impacts the younger generation to a great degree as well,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “Through the scholarship competition, thousands of young adults over the years have expressed heartfelt – and at times heartbreaking – emotions related to caring for their grandparents, parents or other relatives, or witnessing in other ways the ravaging effects of the disease.”

Last year, AFA received nearly 1,800 applications from college-bound students across the country. Grace Kearney of Baltimore took the top prize with an essay that described the challenges she watched healthcare professionals face in treating people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as the insights she gained while interning as a research assistant at a geriatric clinic. As a result of her experience, Kearney, now a student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, plans to become a geriatric physician.

AFA Teens was founded in 2002 by a teenager, Neha Chauhan, intent on mobilizing other teens to get involved in the cause. Recently, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) awarded its “PhRMA Research & Hope Award for Volunteer Champion” to Chauhan for her groundbreaking work with AFA Teens.

In addition to the scholarship, AFA Teens features a Web site with information about the disease, and a blog and bulletin board for teens to express their thoughts and share experiences with peers. It also offers an annual video competition, and encourages teens to establish AFA Teens chapters in their communities. For more information, visit

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, live chat and Skype, educational materials, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-232-8484 or visit


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Carol Steinberg
Alzheimer's Foundation of America
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