Ahead of the 2020 AbbVie IBD Scholarship deadline, we caught up with our past recipients to learn about life after receiving the scholarship and the impact it has had.
Elliot was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was 13 years old, but didn’t let that – or the tube up his nose – keep him from playing soccer or cycling. Over the years since his diagnosis, Elliot has always found ways to give back to the community – volunteering and helping in any way he can.
He graduated from Dalhousie University in 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and his own experience with Crohn’s disease fuels his passion to pursue biomedical engineering.
What have you done or are currently doing with the IBD community?
My involvement began in 2011 when I went to Camp Guts & Glory, it was the first time I had ever gone to summer camp – and it was specifically for kids with IBD no less!
During my second summer there, I joined their leaders-in-training program (LIT), and learned a lot about teamwork and communication, while running a carnival for the camp with the other LITs.
Around that time, the local Children’s hospital was creating a Crohn’s Survival Guide video, and they asked me to share my story. In the video, my family and I discuss how the disease affects our lives, and offer our tips for families with a newly diagnosed child. This video was played to families at the hospital as a way of supporting them, and is available on YouTube.
The next year I was too old to go back (sad face
) so I applied be a counsellor at Brigadoon Village, where Guts & Glory and the Eastern Camp Got2Go takes place. I worked there for over 6 years on and off, taking one summer off to do a co-op term for my engineering degree, but made sure I took a week to comeback for Guts & Glory and Got2Go. At camp, I taught archery, led hikes and sang songs, but most importantly, I was a mentor to kids facing challenges I had gone through myself, especially those who were new to camp and or newly diagnosed.
Recently, I just finished being a peer mentor in Toronto Sick Kids’ IBD iPeer2Peer mentorship study, which is being funded by Crohn's and Colitis Canada. I did regular Skype calls with individual youth across the country and served as a person to talk to about life with IBD and anything else that came to mind.
How has receiving the AbbVie IBD Scholarship impacted your journey through school?
It provided some extra financial support. When I got the scholarship, I had just moved to a new city, away from home. I was taking a higher course-load and didn’t have time to do anything, besides school. The support mitigated some stress and allowed me to use this precious spare time with friends and continue my involvement in the community. If I hadn’t gotten it I may not have been able to afford to continue working at my beloved camp.
What advice do you have for students who are thinking of applying for the scholarship?
Apply and keeping applying until you get it! It took me two tries, and because I got some good feedback the first time, I made sure to apply the next year – and I was successful! There are multiple recipients every year you could be one of them. And be sure to get involved in your community – supporting others with IBD is extremely important because we could also use that support at various points in our lives.
To learn more about the AbbVie IBD Scholarship and submit your application, click here.