Auger & Auger is proud to announce that Alexa Jo Palmer is one of the recipients of our Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award, worth $1,000 each. The scholarship awards are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America that have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and their community.
When she was 16, Alexa Jo was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine. Though the cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, Alexa Jo noticed her symptoms always seemed to flare up when she was stressed out — and as a high schooler, that was all the time.
It took Alexa Jo a year to become comfortable with herself and the disease, which at first was embarrassing for a 16-year-old high school student. Along with the pain she was experiencing, the steroid treatment caused her to put on excessive weight. All of these issues combined were enough to crush the spirits of any teenage girl.
But not Alexa Jo.
She attended a one-week overnight summer camp for kids with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. There, surrounded by others her age facing the same challenges, she learned to be comfortable with herself. When she returned to school for her senior year, she was more confident, and was able to joke about her disease. Since then, she has taken great strides to raise money and awareness for finding a cure.
In 2016, she participated in Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis, raising over $6,000. She also raised awareness on a local radio station, and is very active in the Crohn’s/colitis community. For her efforts, she was honored by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
Before being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, Alexa Jo wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. Now, her path is clear: pediatrics. For now, she is attending Widener University in Pennsylvania and majoring in nursing. She’s still undecided on whether or not to continue her education to become a pediatric surgeon.
Through all of her struggles, Alexa Jo says her parents have been the most influential people in her life. She says they always told her she could do whatever she wanted in life, and that she was capable of doing anything if she put my mind to it — even after her diagnosis.
Though ulcerative colitis is a disease many aren’t familiar with, Alexa Jo says she hopes our society gains a greater understanding of it. It’s an invisible disease; though she may not look sick, she suffers from the disease every day.
“Some days I can be in pain and you might not even know it,” she says.
More than anything, Alexa Jo lives her life by the mantra, “Be the change you wish to see in the world. She believe that if you believe so passionately about changing something, then you should stop waiting for someone else and do it. And ulcerative colitis isn’t going to stop her from making the world a better place.