Society Member Spotlight: Jennifer Kent – “Dream Support Grant” Recipient
By B. Pasapane on May/23/2016
Congratulations to “Dream Support Grant” recipient Jennifer Kent, from the Society chapter at Southern New Hampshire University - College of Online and Continuing Education.
Jennifer Kent, a Society member since September 2014, is an online student at Southern New Hampshire University. As a “Dream Support Grant” recipient, she is writing a children’s book about childhood cancer. When it is complete, she is planning a special volunteer event to coincide with the book’s release.
Today we are happy to share with you part one of Jennifer’s progress toward fulfilling her dream.
By: Jennifer Kent
Writing a children’s book has been an amazing experience. With the actual writing of the book near completion, I can begin to shift my focus to what I will do with the finished product. I am planning a trip to visit and spend time with the kids at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), a world-renowned cancer treatment and research center in Boston, Mass. I am a childhood cancer survivor and have wanted to write a book like this for as long as I can remember. Through my book, I want to convey to the kids in the hospital everything I learned about being a cancer survivor. I was three months old when I was diagnosed, so I don’t have many memories of the moment I found out or the treatment I went through. However, I do remember the follow-up visits, which I still attend to this day. Therefore, it’s really important to me that I make this book as great and inspiring as it can be.
When I was invited to join the Society, I immediately jumped into the program by completing the Orientation and Speaker Broadcasts. During Orientation, I learned something that I still carry with me to this day. Dr. Joe Martin asked, “What’s the most important decision you’ll make in your life?” He continues to provide his own answer: “deciding your purpose for living.” I believe my purpose is not just to be a writer, but specifically to write this children’s book, because it’s something I wish I had as a child. When I was growing up, I was confused and even a little embarrassed about being a cancer survivor. I never knew how to bring it up, I didn’t want pity from anyone and I definitely could have benefitted from drawing off someone else’s strength. Every Speaker Broadcast I watched as a Society member was chosen because it touched me in some way, whether it was the subject or the particular speaker.
I have an upcoming appointment to meet with a representative in the Living Services Department at DFCI to finalize my visit. I plan to use a portion of the money I received from the “Dream Support Grant” to make t-shirts and hand them out to children at the hospital before reading from my book. In addition, I will be creating gift bags, which will be filled with fun toys and things the kids can play with to help pass the time while they are in the hospital. My family has also chosen to contribute. My aunt will be making each child a dream catcher, and my cousin is going to crochet a superhero patch for each kid. In fact, some of my friends will be dressing up in superhero costumes, provided by my sister-in-law, to entertain the kids.
This entire project has opened my eyes to so many other opportunities and additional ways I can help make more of a difference. For instance, I learned about a website called “Represent,” which helps users promote campaigns centered around a t-shirt or product. All of the proceeds, minus a fee for making the product, are then donated to the charity/charities you choose. Since this is a book about heroes, I’ve chosen to designate my proceeds to go to DFCI, the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). I believe that at times, everyone needs a hero and a little help. I want these kids fighting this terrible disease to know they are heroes. Overall, it is my hope that I am able to give these children an amazing day with lots of fun, friends and memories.