Leah Anne Bettag - 2007 Recipient
Hi, my name is Leah Bettag. I graduated from Mather High School in 2007 and am now attending Northwestern University. Since I come from a very low income family, my ability to attend such a prestigious institution is largely due to the generosity and support the Zeolites and Mather Alumni provide. I am doing well in my classes here, and I'm currently working towards a degree in English Literature, with a concentration in writing. (but since I entered as a Pre-Med student less than a year ago, that is still subject to change a little.) Thank you for your continued support of my education, and for allowing me to figure out my future with less of a financial burden to bear.
For my entire life, the pursuit of knowledge has been one of my utmost passions, and for a long time now I have wanted greater intellectual challenges and a place to pursue them. I was not always challenged to the extent of my abilities, and in my younger years I was often unhappy and bored in school. So it was always necessary to continue my studies outside of the classroom. Due to this frustration, I assumed that college would provide the same obstacles, but as I learned more and more about the world, I began to see that college was, in fact, the intellectual environment I had been searching for. But ultimately what essentially motivated me to continue with higher education was my desire to become a physician.
I have always had an interest in helping and serving others. When I was very small, I can remember trying to clean and bandage wounds when people were hurt. But for most of my life the people I love and care about have been affected by diseases that I could do nothing to help them with: from seizures to diabetes, epilepsy, lupus, cerebral meningitis, hypertension, and dialysis treatments. In all of these cases, I have wanted to do something to alleviate the pain and suffering, and have spent as many hours in the hospital as I could, doing my best to make sure they were being treated. It was this that prompted me to begin playing chamber music in various medical homes.
It was while working in the University of Illinois Medical Center's Stroke Institute over the summer that I solidified my commitment to becoming a physician. There are so many opportunities in this field that will allow me to aid those in need, and attempt to solve the many problems that face such a large portion of the world's population. In accordance with this ideology, I hope to one day open up a free clinic that takes into account the everyday lives of the patients, to serve the millions that go without good treatment and health insurance. It is the long-term commitment to this goal, coupled with my ardent love for knowledge and understanding of the world and the people who live in it, that drives me to higher education and beyond.
Although my family has always been financially challenged, so to speak, I was taught to never hang my head low, or lessen my interests because of that. So even though I might not have gotten lessons on the various subjects of my interest, such as drawing or music lessons, I was encouraged to explore these areas on my own. As I continue on in my education, money is definitely an issue I must take into account, but I hope that I will be able to continue developing myself without the hindrances of monetary deficiency.