Birmingham student’s essay on grandmother takes third place in national Alzheimer’s awareness competition

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Birmingham student’s essay on grandmother takes third place in national Alzheimer’s awareness competition

(AFA, July 6, 2022)

Birmingham, MI – The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has named Jonathan Marx, of Birmingham, MI, the third winner of its 2022 National Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest and has awarded him awarded a university scholarship of $2,500. Jonathan was chosen from nearly 1,800 entries nationwide for his essay about his paternal grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, which inspired him to study the brain and neuroscience.

“Jonathan’s heartwarming essay about his grandmother and the impact she had on his life is a great example of how Alzheimer’s disease affects people of all ages,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., President and CEO of AFA. “It also served as an example of how a loved one can influence and inspire someone to make a difference in the lives of others and the community around them. It’s really inspiring. We congratulate Jonathan on being chosen as the winner of this contest and thank him for sharing his story.

Jonathan’s essay focuses on his paternal grandmother, Mame’ Paulette, who lives with Alzheimer’s disease in France, and his relationship with her. He describes childhood memories of playing with her at her home and a nearby park and breaking through the language barrier by connecting through music and laughter.

When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago, it inspired Jonathan. In first year, he discovered the Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition. He began to learn about the brain and became particularly interested in the subject of music in the brain, based on experiences he had with his grandmother.

“Music is important to me and plays a central role in my heritage and culture. Even now, when my grandmother might not recognize my face, she recognizes tunes from her past, opera songs and hits from yesterday,” Jonathan wrote. “Paulette often enjoys such attempts to bring her past to life, and during such moments I feel like we can still connect…I never would have felt the same desire to learn more about the music and its effects without its influence.”

Throughout high school, Jonathan pursued his passion for neuroscience, joining the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) and learning about topics such as neuroethics, deep brain stimulation (DBS), and closed-loop DBS. Jonathan, a recent graduate of the Okma International Academy, will continue his studies in neuroscience at the University of Michigan this fall.

Jonathan wrote: “In my struggle to cope not only with Alzheimer’s disease, but also with other neurological disorders and diseases, I have found peace in knowing. I always try, and will continue, to try to connect with my grandmother. If it weren’t for my family ties to neurological disorders and diseases, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I implore anyone who wants to know how something affects others to go ahead and do some research.

AFA’s annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest asks high school students to describe how Alzheimer’s disease has impacted their lives, what they have learned about themselves themselves, their families and their communities facing this disease, and what their plans are to raise awareness of the disease in the future. This year, the AFA awarded nearly $90,000 in college scholarships to 117 students from across the country.

For more information about the AFA Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship Essay Contest, call the AFA at 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

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