Tess D.

Undergraduate Recipient

"What inspirational advice would you give to others with CF entering high school or college? As part of your essay, please also explain the significance of your creative presentation to your journey with CF."

Too often, people want to feel "normal," and having CF may make you feel different from your peers. Entering college and meeting new people can be simultaneously nerve-racking and exhilarating. Do not use this transition to hide your CF, or falter with your health routine. No one you meet will be normal. Everyone carries something that they feel sets them apart from others. Some are just better at hiding it than others. You are a CF warrior no matter where you go. CF does not define you, but it has shaped who you are. For all the challenges that life with CF brings, it also brings valuable coping strategies and life lessons. For example, my health issues have made me strong, resilient, determined, a risk-taker, and very goal driven. Having CF also makes me focus more on the moment, and to not put off the pursuit of my dreams. My creative presentation represents this determination to not try to fit in and be "normal," but rather, to pursue my passions. It is a photo/video montage interspersing performance footage with the medical realities of CF, and it accompanies my song, "Daydreamers," the title track off my third EP. I wrote the music and lyrics, and performed the vocals and piano. To my CF peers entering college I say: forget about trying to be like everyone else. You are normal in that you are unique. And after a lifetime of CF, you have strengths that you should embrace, not hide.


Tess D.'s Artwork

Tess D.'s Achievements

  • Performed in annual Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Concerts 2011 to 2014, raising nearly $30,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Research, Incorporated (CFRI); also performed at CFRI's "Wine for a Cure," event in October, 2014;
  • Profiled in Vans Off The Wall TV's "Pass the Bucket" Film Series, to raise CF Awareness. Film blogged about from Brazil to England! http://offthewall.tv/video/tess_dunn;
  • Performed in the Vans Warped Tour West Coast shows each year since 2009, including 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014;
  • Released three EPs of original music, "Darling Just Walk" (2009), "Honesty Box" (2012) and "Daydreamers" (2014);
  • Discuss life with CF on my website (www.tessdunn.com), which has had over 317,000 hits and over 42,000 unique visits over the past 12 months;
  • Interviewed/Performed on 32 radio stations over 36 months (2012 -2015) from Santa Cruz, CA to Portland, OR, and featured in 10 newspaper articles during which I consistently discuss life with CF;
  • "Hunger Fighter" volunteer for Grind Out Hunger, a program of Second Harvest Food Bank; http://www.stayclassy.org/events/tess-dunn/e16653
  • Performed in 6 Interact Benefit concerts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in support of health projects in Africa (2012, 2013);
  • Performed at "Kidrageous Carnival" events (2011, 2012, 2013) in support of Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support Services;
  • "Tess Dunn Day" declared in Santa Cruz County by the County Board of Supervisors on December 14, 2014, and "Tess Dunn Day" declared in the City of Santa Cruz on December 19, 2010 by the city's mayor in recognition of my community involvement, musical pursuits, and CF-related advocacy.