Stephen S.

Graduate Recipient

"A year from now, what advice might you give to your past self that could help you overcome any obstacles you are currently facing? Explain how this advice could help you live your life with CF to the fullest potential right now. As part of your essay please also explain the significance of your creative presentation to your journey with CF."

I waited years as a breakthrough CF medication cautiously made its way through clinical trials. I can remember sitting in my kitchen, brimming with excitement, as the box of medication finally arrived on my doorstep, waiting to be taken and for me to begin my ‘new’ life. However, days passed and my new life was slow to come. Months passed and still my new life was yet to reveal itself and now, as I still wait, I continue to be sick while a fog grows over the hopes and plans I once had for my future.

If one morning I was to sit with my future self, with coffee in hand, I think I would empathize with my hope in this medication, but point out that it is not my only hope. Nodding in my direction I would remind myself of the strength and resilience that I nurtured over countless years of sickness and disappointment. The hope is not only in the next medication but in my strength to take ownership in combating the disease as it is today with the current medicines, diet and exercise, as well as, my embedded resilience to keep moving forward until that medication, or cure I have been hoping for finally comes.

I created a photograph of myself grabbing white balloons in each hand. My outstretched hands and raised head are a posture of strength as the white balloons strain upward to symbolize my hope for a future of strong and healthy lungs.


Stephen S.'s Artwork

Stephen S.'s Achievements

  • Ph.D. Student, Paul Trainor, Ph.D., The Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO (May 2015 to Present)
  • Dissertation project: "RDH10 mediated Vitamin A metabolism in the development of the gastrointestinal tract"
  • Co-Founder, Graduate and Post-doctoral Outreach, The Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO (January 2016 to Present)
  • Member, CF Adult and Family Advisors Group, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (February 2016 to Present)
  • Scientific Panel Member, Rare Disease Town Hall KC, Kauffman Center, Kansas City, MO (February 19, 2016)
  • Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship (April 2015 to May 2019)
  • Science and Research Columnist, BioNews Services, LLC. (January 2015 to September 2015)
  • I wrote a weekly column, totaling 25 articles, on Cystic Fibrosis News Today concerning topics of research, drug development and life-style to advocate issues important to the CF community.
  • High School Life Sciences Teacher, Kansas City Christian, Prairie Village, KS (June 2013 to May 2014)
  • Beaver-Schmale Research Award Recipient, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL (May 2013)
  • Endocrine Society Research Fellowship (May 2012 to August 2012)
  • Student Technician, John Wu, Ph.D., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD (May 2012 to August 2012)
  • I investigated the role blast induced brain injuries cause in development of post-traumatic stress disorder in patient populations similar to service members returning from theaters of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.