By: Laura Desiral, National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter Intern
Dorothy Beswick of Seymour has been named to receive the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s, 2012 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship.
Beswick, 46, has been accepted to Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury where she will pursue an associate's degree in health care administration.
Beswick, a single mother of two grown children, is active in her community, volunteering at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield and the Seymour Land Trust.
“My dream is to be self-sufficient,” said Beswick, who despite her age is eager to take on the challenge and adventure of a non-traditional student. “I‘ve come to realize that the knowledge and skills accompanying a degree will make me more marketable in this competitive job market.”
Beswick is a longtime supporter of the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, for which she raises awareness and funds.
Beswick’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease, at age 68. Today, 15 years later, her mother is confided to a wheelchair. In an ironic twist of fate, Dorothy Beswick was also diagnosed with MS four months after her mother’s diagnosis.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis generally affects more women than men and is often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with speech and vision and, in some severe cases, complete paralysis. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis.
The effects of Beswick’s illness have always influenced her decisions as it relates to employment: Health insurance coverage is critical for her.
“The costs for medication to treat my illness are significant, so health coverage is important to me,” said Beswick, who for many years worked as a materials administrator at ., in Oxford. “Being unemployed for about a year now, I see the importance to a higher education. Even with 20 years of experience in my field, most employers are now asking for some type of degree, which puts me at a disadvantage."
According to her pastor, the Rev. Robert Booth of Seymour United Methodist Church, Beswick’s life has been characterized by adversity and loss. However, he says she continues “strive and move forward.” He indicated she is a woman of her word, keeping to her commitments even when it’s inconvenient or difficult.
“Beswick realizes the impact education can have on the rest of her life,” said Lisa Gerrol, President of the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter. “Demonstrating courage and the perseverance in the face of the many day-to-day challenges associated with the unpredictable affects of MS has uniquely qualified Beswick to be named to this year’s MS scholarship program.”
Beswick was recognized by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, at its annual Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Reception, which was held at the Country Club of Farmington, Thursday, June 7. She is one of 10 scholarship candidates receiving a 2012 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial scholarship. Four students received college scholarships from either the Jo-Ann Concilio Memorial Fund or the Corn-Carter Family Scholarship fund.
Petit family scholarships are made possible through the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s MS memorial Fund, which specifically supports National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, family programs. The fund was established in July 2007 by the family to honor the memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who had MS, and her daughters Haley and Michaela, who were active with the chapter helping raise funds to support scientific research for cure.
The National MS Society scholarship program is offered annually to vocational, technical or college-bound high school seniors diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or to applicants whose parents has multiple sclerosis.
Scholarship applications for the 2013 school year will be available online in October. For more information on MS or for additional information on 2013 MS scholarship criteria, please contact the Connecticut chapter at 860-913-2550 or visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
About the author: Laura Desiral is a junior at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations. Desiral is currently conducting a public relations internship with the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, in Hartford.