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We are happy to announce that the fourth Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship will be awarded to Carol Mata, a biomedical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati.

A year and a half ago, Carol’s father was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which ultimately took his life in early 2016. When asked how this experience has affected her, Carol says, “Cancer has changed my life. It’s taken a lot away, but it’s also brought my family together. I can honestly say, cancer has been a blessing.”

She admits that each day since her father’s passing has been a struggle, and she fights against that struggle every day. But she believes she’s grown to be a stronger person and knows that her father would want her to move forward and live for him. “He would want me to enjoy the moments that I have. And not let his death be the death of me.”

For Carol, overcoming the cancer means being able to glean the good from it. She says she now sees everyone in a different light, understanding that you never know what someone else might be going through.

Her experience has also helped continue to motivate her dream of being a biomedical engineer. In her video essay, she recounts a memory:

I remember sitting in the hospital room with my father, and he’d point to various medical equipement and say, “Carol, someday you’re going to design stuff like this,” with a proud smile on his face [...]. “But you better make it better.” He’d give suggestions because of the pain he was going through. And it was frustrating for me as a freshman to know that was my goal — to ease people’s pain, to be the change — and I was too inexperienced to know how to do something for him.

Fueled by her frustration, Carol approached a professor and told her, “I need to be making a change right now.” Her professor got her into a pancreatic cancer lab, where she continues to do research.

While Carol feels she has been molded into a better person, there are still lingering burdens, including a year’s worth of medical bills. “I work full time right now. Each semester is trying to pay for the next. It’s not just tuition; it’s rent, it’s food, it’s books. This scholarship would help me continue my studies.”

We couldn’t be more honored to award The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship to Carol, a paradigm of empathy, determination, and selflessness. We look forward to seeing the wonderful changes she makes as a biomedical engineer to help people like her father.