Picks Finalists for $10,000 Scholarship Essay Contest

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Judges have selected the top five essays in the Jan Egerton and Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship Contest, and now the public can help select the winners by voting through social media., the website dedicated to providing helpful information to mesothelioma victims and their caregivers, has chosen the five finalists in its $10,000 Jan Egerton and Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship Contest.

Now, the public can choose the order of the winning essays by voting before the November 17, 2014 deadline.

The contest’s panel of judges received 128 submitted essays. After spending countless hours reading and re-reading the entries, the judges picked the following five finalists:

Justin Hellier (Irvine Valley College)
Erienne Overli (University of Nevada-Reno)
Samantha Robeson (University of Delaware)
Fernando Salazar (University of New Mexico)
Jennifer Schnalzer (Rockland Community College)

Their essays can be viewed by going to’s 2014 Finalists page. After reading a student’s essay, you can vote for it by clicking on the Facebook or Google+ buttons located directly to the right of it.

The contest’s first-place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship, with $2,500 going to the runner-up, $1,250 to third place, $500 to fourth place and $250 to fifth place. Five honorable mention prize winners have also been chosen and will receive $100 each.

The contest is named in honor of two individuals – Jan Egerton and Don Smitley – whose lives were lost due to mesothelioma.

“We are so honored to have Dad’s name on this scholarship. It’s a perfect way to remember and honor him,” said Jennifer Gelsick, Don Smitley’s daughter, who has chronicled her father’s fight with mesothelioma and discussed her life after losing a loved one to the disease in her blog on    

Gelsick and Lisa Hyde-Barrett, a thoracic surgery nurse who also serves as a contributor to, selected the top five essays for voting.

“It was humbling to see how hard each contestant worked on their essay,” Jennifer said. “I’ve learned a lot about the history of mesothelioma, and I’ve enjoyed reading the personal stories that were shared.” invited students from colleges and universities throughout the U.S. to participate in the contest. Students submitted stories on how they and their family members have been personally impacted by mesothelioma and essays on the history of the disease and the latest medical developments aimed at addressing it.

The goal of the contest is to help the educational efforts of students while raising awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Each year, an estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About MesotheliomaHelp.Org is a website dedicated to real people within the mesothelioma community. It is a compassionate community that provides answers to questions about the disease, access to local treatment centers, current information about mesothelioma treatment options, real stories and testimonials of survivors and a live chat option. For more information, please visit the site and submit an online contact form.


For more information visit:

Or Robert Padget at rcpcooper(at)consultwebs-email(dot)com

Or Marjorie Marr at mmarr(at)consultwebs-email(dot)com - (919) 455-1744

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Marjorie Marr
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