Celebrating 10 Years of Student Success

Ashley Poffenroth
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program, and we are celebrating the milestone year by doubling the number of available scholarships, which means 20 amazing post-secondary students will receive a $5,000 scholarship for the upcoming fall 2021 semester. 

Ahead of the 2021 AbbVie IBD Scholarship deadline, we reconnected with recipients from the past ten years. Read on to see what an extraordinary 2013 scholarship recipient has to say about why they applied and tips for academic success!


Meet Ashley Poffenroth

Ashley is a member of the second class of inspiring and ambitious AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipients with a passion for giving back to their community. She received the scholarship in 2013 while completing the fourth year of her undergraduate degree in biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Drawn to the field of nursing, Ashley went on to complete the fast track two-year Bachelor of Nursing Science degree offered through the Faculty of Health Science at Queen’s University. Shortly after completing her nursing degree, Ashley embarked into the field of medicine, working as a Registered Nurse at Lion Gates Hospital’s Emergency Department. A superhero in our eyes, Ashley is furthering her education by pursuing an Emergency Nursing Specialty Advanced Certificate through the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).  

We chatted with Ashley to learn about her involvement with the IBD community, the role the scholarship played in supporting her post-secondary education, tips for applying, and her advice for students as they complete their degree while taking on IBD. 

Here’s what Ashley had to share: 

What have you done or are currently doing with the Crohn’s and colitis community?

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2007, and have since undergone various treatments, including surgery, in an effort to regain and maintain my health. Since receiving my diagnosis, I have taken part in Gutsy Walk to help raise awareness and fundraise for the cause. I have also had the opportunity to participate directly in patient research with hopes of one day better understanding the mechanism of the disease, discovering new treatments, and contributing to the potential discovery of a cure. Lastly, I am indirectly involved in the IBD community in my job as a Registered Nurse in Emergency. In this role, I have the privilege to support patients with new IBD diagnoses as well as those experiencing flare-ups and IBD-related complications.”

How has receiving the AbbVie IBD Scholarship affected your academic journey?

“The AbbVie IBD Scholarship helped to alleviate financial stress that inevitably comes with post-secondary education, allowing me to focus on my schoolwork. The scholarship also allowed me to direct my time, energy, and money towards pursuing a second undergraduate degree in nursing. Upon completion of my Bachelor of Science in Biology, I returned to Queen’s University to attend the fast-track 2-year Registered Nursing program.”

What advice do you have for students who are thinking of applying for the scholarship? 

“Do it! You're living well with IBD and that should be celebrated. You deserve the same opportunities as other students to succeed in the pursuit of higher education, despite chronic illness. IBD can have impacts on all facets of student life, and alleviating some of the financial burden can allow you to focus more energy on school, sports, hobbies, friends, and other support systems.”

What are your tips for students living with IBD as they pursue higher education? 

“Asking for help and using resources in your community takes strength and courage, and are key to maintaining your health and wellness. Stress can negatively affect your body, particularly when living with an autoimmune disease. It is important to listen to your body, discover what you need to de-stress, and take time for yourself free of guilt or shame. Join school clubs, enjoy some live music, and meet with friends, counsellors, or teachers. It is important to adhere to your treatment plan, take your medications, and attend your appointments, but health—body and mind—goes far beyond that.”

If you are heading back to class for the fall 2021 semester, we encourage you to take the time to submit your application today for the chance to head back to class with a bit of extra cash! The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm ET on June 1st, 2021.

To learn more about the AbbVie IBD Scholarship and submit your application, click here

Do you have questions? Reach out to us at info@ibdscholarship.ca.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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