George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I’m sure that is true for almost all healthy children. But for those of us who have faced death at six years old there is no time to waste. My cancer formed above my kidney and grew quickly; it gave no quarter for my young age. While others were learning to read, or ride a bike, I underwent rigorous cycles of chemotherapy treatment and waves of radiation. That year I was perhaps too young to understand death but I did understand loneliness and pain. Unlike my tall, strong brother, I am short and fragile. But I am alive.

In 2012, less than ten years after I survived Neuroblastoma, I was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. This time it was thyroid cancer. The idea of facing death a second time was a bit scarier because I was old enough to fully grasp the magnitude of my battle for survival.

Although there are many victims of cancer, most of them are mature adults who have set their course in life. Facing this disease as such an early age is my greatest asset for I have learned every day is a precious gift with no guarantees of another.

After my experiences with cancer, I started my own gaming company, PSN Circuit. PSN Circuit is one of the main sources of competitive video gaming events on the entire PlayStation platform. My team hosts events of competitive gamers who wish to gain recognition for their gaming intuition and win cash prizes.

Developed from the ground up and taking up enormous amounts of my time, this brand has become a gold mine for gaming innovation. Whether it be the latest trend, a new game, a cutting–edge tournament algorithm, or novel player communication platforms, we aggressively invite creative gaming solutions an applications.

More recently, in order to give back to my local community that supported me through my health issues, I have offered my services to local institutions as a freelance business development manager. With the goal of fixing family businesses in the contemporary economy, I started my association with /East Brookfield Pizza, a small-town pizzeria that was struggling due to their old-fashioned branding, ineffective marketing, and poor food quality. After I developed a comprehensive marketing plan, they are end route to profitability. They have new branding, social media, contemporary promotional materials, and a to avant-garde storefront seemingly divorced from the cliché idea of a small-town pizzeria.  Without my help, statistical analysis suggests the EBP would have gone out of business within the next few years. Now hiring more employees than ever before in their history and producing substantial capital to be used of expansion, EBP is making considerable strides towards providing stable jobs in the Brookfield area.

In my most recent ventures, I’ve reached out to more local businesses that need exhaustive development plans. I’ve taken a position with Parrot Pizza in Holden, MA to evaluate their marketing strategies and execute detailed new strategies to expand their prominence in the Worcester County community.

This fall I will start my pursuit for a bachelor’s degree in both Marketing and Management at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and after I graduate I will pursue my MBA in a business filed of my choice. My experiences with cancer have invigorated me to want to chase my dreams and better the community that I live in. This education will certainly arm me with the tools necessary to be successful in business, and most importantly, life.

I do not know what my future holds but I am confident that I will enjoy and appreciate every minute of it. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, I wish “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of if life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

This GIFT FROM NICKI is an opportunity to alleviate college debt and help kick start my adulthood without hefty loans holding me back from taking risks, and therefore, succeeding. There will undoubtedly be smarter applicants with better grades than me, but I doubt there will be any who will have a greater enthusiasm or appreciation for a college education, or more importantly, a greater empathy for the less fortunate, or a stronger desire to make a difference.