Brandon W. Ledford
I have spent my life defying the odds. When I was nine, I was diagnosed with the African form of Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a rare form of leukemia. I was the third person to be diagnosed with this disease in the United States and was given a ten percent chance of survival. Doctors discovered a treatment plan from oncologists in France, and I started experimental chemotherapy at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh immediately. I went bald, my weight dropped to thirty pounds, and I could no longer eat or walk by myself. For reasons I will never understand, my father had an affair and abandoned our family at this time, leaving the battle to my mother and me. Although it was an arduous three months, the medical plan was successful. I was first person in the U.S. to survive this disease. I would continue chemotherapy and antibiotics for the next five years, but the hardest part was over.
Upon leaving the hospital, I was told that I would never be able to play sports because the damage the chemotherapy did to my body. That year, I won the baseball little league MVP. The following year, my mother patched a catcher’s mitt into the area where my metaport was located, and I was the starting quarterback for the football team. Last year, I ran my first 10 K in under an hour. Currently, I am training for a triathlon that I will complete this summer.
In high school, since I had to miss so much school for medical reasons I was told that I should just get a normal job and wait on college and beyond. I neither took a normal job nor waited on college and graduate school, and the Horatio Alger Association was the reason why. During the National Scholar awards ceremony, I met Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Two years later, by his recommendation, I interned at the United States Supreme Court. Justice Thomas has continued to mentor me, and I am beyond grateful to continue to have his support and encouragement.
I continued to defy the odds. I attended the Pennsylvania State University, graduated with honors, and only had to miss one semester due to surgery and illness. Following graduation, I went to work at a top public policy law firm in Washington, D.C. This fall, I completed my first semester at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. Not only did I complete my first semester with a 3.76 GPA, but I did not miss one day of school. This is a feat of which I am tremendously proud.
I work hard every day. I hope that you will consider me a suitable candidate for the GovLoop/CampusGob Scholarship, so that I can continue to follow my dreams in the world of public policy. I hope to defy the odds one more time.