Lucia Coppola, an 18-year-old graduating senior at Community School of Davidson, is one of only five students to recently be awarded a $5,000 Hope Paige HERB It Forward scholarship.
“The ‘HERB It Forward’ scholarship was created to educate those future leaders who will continue to pay it forward,” said Shelly Fisher, CEO of Hope Paige Medical ID.
Named after Fisher’s father, Herb, a self-made businessman who dedicated his life to helping others, the scholarship was created to reward committed, enthusiastic young adults who have the desire and drive to make a difference.
“We want to help them in their educational pursuits since education is the one gift that can’t be taken away from you,” said Fisher.
Coppola found out about Hope Paige when she purchased a medical ID necklace for Von Willebrand Disease, a bleeding disease that she was diagnosed with in 2013.
She had battled fatigue, bruising and anemia her whole life. But when a ruptured ovarian cyst caused unusual hemorrhaging in December 2013, she was hospitalized. Coppola was later diagnosed with the condition that means her blood contains some, but not enough, of the Von Willebrand factor that causes blood to clot.
Shortly after ordering the silver heart medical alert necklace that was customized with her name, birthdate, “1vwd” representing her disorder and the name of her medication, she came across the Herb It Forward scholarship page.
She submitted an online application with several essays and then was interviewed.
A total of 15 scholarships were awarded to people ages 17 to 25 who have been Hope Paige customers within the last five years or have an immediate family member who was a customer. Five winners were awarded $5,000 scholarships, while others received $500 and $1,000 scholarships.
“This scholarship means I will be able to pursue a career in social work and continue to serve my community professionally,” Coppola said.
Having grown up with a grandmother who was a social worker and a mother who dedicated part of her career to working in Title I schools in the Charlotte area, Coppola said she knew from an early age she wanted to pursue a career in community service.
She has volunteered at several nonprofit organizations and founded a Homeless Outreach Club at her school.
“We have worked in family shelters, day shelters, women and children’s shelters and domestic violence shelters,” Coppola said. “I recently coordinated an event called ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ at my school, where boys and men walked a mile in high heel shoes to raise awareness for gender violence and raise funds for (the crisis service agency and domestic violence shelter) Safe Alliance.”
She plans to attend UNC Wilmington in the fall and pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration, followed by a master’s degree in social work.
After earning her degrees, Coppola would like to work in a shelter for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and ultimately, become the director of a shelter.
“Through my experiences at various shelters, I’ve found that my passion lies in working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” she said. “These victims seek services during the lowest points in their lives and it is humbling to have the opportunity to offer them hope and comfort as they begin the process of healing.”
Jennifer Baxter is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jennifer? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.