Melissa Weiner received a $25,000 from the AbbVie Scholarship Program
Melissa Weiner was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) when she was about two months old. Since then, she’s spent her time with varying health issues due to her chronic illness.
Now, her journey with CF has also earned her a scholarship from the AbbVie CF Scholarship program. She said she knew of AbbVie because of the pharmaceutical and fundraising work it does for CF.
She’s using the money to help fund her time in the master’s program of strategic human resource management at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
“When I got into grad school and started looking for just ways to kind of fund that and share my story at the same time, it was one of the first CF scholarships that popped up. And so, I figured, you know, never hurts to apply. It just kind of worked out really well in my favor. And I’m very thankful that I was able to find it and get everything in on time,” she said.
The organization selected Weiner as the graduate recipient for the Thriving Student Scholarship for a total award of $25,000.
“The AbbVie CF Scholarship recognizes exceptional students with cystic fibrosis who demonstrate academic excellence, community involvement, creativity, and the ability to serve as a positive role model for the cystic fibrosis community,” the organization’s website states.
Every year, the organization awards these students $3,000, with an addition $22,000 for people like Weiner, who win the Thriving Student Scholarship.
When she found out that she had gotten the scholarship, Weiner was ecstatic. She said that after facing so much adversity in her life, it can be shocking when good things happen.
“It felt really nice to be rewarded and made it feel like all my hard work mattered, not just when it came to managing my health, but when it came to grades and work and stuff to which I really pushed myself in that regard. So, it felt absolutely incredible to get that call and to feel like I had done something right,” she explained.
Weiner, who is from Vienna, earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Christopher Newport University.
After landing a job at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the human resources department, she realized that she liked the combination of business and helping others that human resources had to offer.
From there, she looked into programs and found one at St. Joseph’s — where both her dad and older brother attended undergrad.
Weiner still resides in the DMV as she still works full time at the EPA while attending graduate school part-time — all in an online format.
For those who also battle chronic illness, Weiner said that having a good support system whenever possible and being kind to yourself is key.
“I also think finding a rhythm in your life is the best way to do things, and to know how you manage your own care because it is a lot to manage when you’re working and doing school,” she said.
However, she acknowledged that is has been tough in the past.
“I did feel like in high school, and in college, when I wasn’t managing myself and my health as well as I could have been, that it hindered my experience a little bit, because I would sometimes just not feel well and couldn’t get up and go to class or couldn’t go to, like practice and sorority events. And it just kind of, I guess, made me feel left out that I wasn’t handling myself as well as I should have been,” Weiner explained.
Now, as part of the routine she has set up in her own life to establish some self-care, Weiner likes to cook and go to the gym.