Each year, Paradigm provides scholarships to college students throughout the United States who wish to devote their studies and careers to the advancement of mental health services.
Leah Howlett was recently honored with a Paradigm Mental Health Treatment Education Scholarship of $1,000 that will go towards her studies to become a Registered Dietician at Arizona State University.
Leah, who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder, is in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction. She has also battled an eating disorder, which is what inspired her to go to school to become a Registered Dietician.
Leah was chosen for this honor based on the thought-provoking essay she wrote about why she wanted to go into nursing. We congratulate Leah for her strength and determination as she continues to thrive.
When I was in high school I was unsure of “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I made a decision to go to nursing school because it was a job my parents approved of; a respected profession with flexible hours and a good salary. In everyone else’s eyes it was perfect, and I just wanted to make everyone happy. So I applied to nursing school, got accepted, graduated and landed a job as an ICU nurse. After 6 months of working as an RN my life came crashing down.
I suffered from depression, bipolar, addiction, and an eating disorder. The world was once my oyster, then my addiction took over everything. I lived in a tiny bubble revolving around drugs and alcohol. I overworked and isolated myself from everyone and everything important. Little did I know, my weaknesses mentioned above would soon become my strengths, my driving forces in life. After three years of misery; being a prisoner to my own mind, I decided to go to my fifth and final rehab center. This is when I finally became sober. Through my journey of recovery, and after two years of sobriety, I have now discovered who I really am and what I want to do with life. I am ready to move forward and begin a new chapter. Despite having a history of an eating disorder, I now have a healthy relationship with food. My negative experiences have motivated me to educate myself on nutrition science and culinary arts. I am passionate about my career choice and confident I am making the right decision.
My primary goal for going back to college is to become a Registered Dietician and then earn a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. I currently have a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing but I want to specialize in nutrition. Working as a nurse in a hospital setting was disheartening and depressing. I felt as though I needed to be on the other end of the health care system; focusing more on education, prevention and holistic treatment methods. I have always been fascinated with nutrition; the science of food, diets, cooking, and how the human body can be healed with proper nutrition. The power of a healthy diet has innumerable benefits. I am so incredibly passionate about nutrition and dietetics. I want to educate Americans on the importance of good nutrition. I want to help people prevent and treat diseases, rather than cover up the symptoms with toxic medicines. I am frustrated with the health care system; placing a temporary band-aid over the serious health issues in this country. A vast amount of chronic diseases can be prevented, controlled, or cured with a healthy diet. I want to make a positive impact on this world. I want to help not a few, but thousands of sick and suffering people. I want to become a reliable resource amidst a sea of misinformation.
After graduation I plan to complete a one year internship at an eating disorder clinic here in Phoenix. I know in my heart I was given a second chance at life so that I could help other people live too. Eating disorders are the number one most deadly mental illness, and the disease epidemic is constantly growing. I believe that after completing my education, an internship, and my Registered Dietician exam I will eventually become an Eating Disorder Nutrition Specialist. I believe that my background in nursing will enhance my work along with a degree in Dietetics so I may better help my patients find strength and hope again. I understand to the depth of my soul how incredibly difficult life is when you have an eating disorder. The depression in indescribable, the mental obsession, loneliness, despair; it all becomes unbearable and unfortunately many of these victims fall prey to the disease and commit suicide. If I can intervene at the most crucial point in a recovering person’s life (while they are in inpatient treatment) then hopefully I can help these people find long-lasting recovery just as I did. I will not settle for a job less than what I believe I am capable of achieving. I will work hard in school, compete for internships and put as much effort into finding a job as I am in these scholarship essays, so that I can work in a field I am truly passionate about. I believe that working as a Dietician will be an amazing opportunity for me to reach out and make a difference in this world.
With this scholarship money I will be able to afford the classes I need to take in order to become a Registered Dietician. I am in a position where I must pay for college out of pocket and am relying on scholarship money to help with funding. Your investment in my future will be the gift that keeps on giving as I plan to share my knowledge to help thousands of sick people get healthy again. I am currently working full-time and am enrolled in a full-time course load. It would be ideal to take some time off work or at least cut back my hours while I am in school. I want to focus the majority of my time and energy into my education, as this is the most important factor in building a successful foundation for my future. I am a high-achiever with substantial goals and ambitions. I believe that if I were to receive enough scholarship money to take time off work then I would be able to participate in several more hours of research and extracurricular activities at Arizona State University. I hope to take full advantage of my time while in university. I will be spending most of my hard-earned savings on this education, and it is an experience I will not take for granted. Receiving any amount of scholarship money will help me not only while in school, but in relieving debt and stress after graduation. I hope that you consider me for this scholarship opportunity and thank you so much for you time.
Arizona State University