The 2015 Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Memorial Scholarship winner is Benton Turner, 2015 graduate and valedictorian of Lutheran High School, but he was not chosen for his impressive academic accomplishments, but for the power and passion that drives him in his future career path.
Benton, the son of Tracy and James Turner, Greenfield received an Indiana Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma. At Lutheran High School, he was involved in the Academic Super Bowl, Spell Bowl, National Honor Society, Indiana State House Ambassador, varsity golf, Voice of Democracy State Finalist, United States Senate Youth Program State Finalist, Spanish Club and Student Council.
He worked in the community for Zion Lutheran Church and School, of which he is a member, and as special projects coordinator at The Sharing Place of Greater Indianapolis. He will attend DePauw University and major in biology.
Benton will be recognized at the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run at New Palestine High School.
In the seven years of the Dani’s Dreams scholarship program, more than $3,500 has been awarded to deserving young people in area high schools. They are all changing the world in positive ways through their academic and creative efforts. You can help them by donating or registering for the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run on this website.
Following is Benton’s essay which everyone should read:
By Benton E.N. Turner
It is the blank, foreboding stare. I do not think there is fear, sadness or pain. Rather, there is nothing, and that is the worst part. One can quickly learn to cope with the forgetfulness, misplaced objects, forgotten names, and confused faces. I think that is the easy part; at least I do now. So many people seem to think this disease is only the forgetfulness. However, it is a forgetfulness that invades all aspects of one’s life. It starts with names, events, faces, but it does not stop there. It is a relentless forgetfulness that leaves nothing. It erodes emotions, erases histories, infect simplicity. It steals loved ones. It stole my grandmother.
To some, choosing a career path at 18 may seem like a daunting task. However, I know what I need to do. Having watched Alzheimer’s steal my grandmother’s memories, independence, and livelihood, I feel called to pursue a career in medicine and research. I plan to major in the biological sciences at DePauw University, attending medical school, and eventually specializing in neurology. I am not so naive as to think one person can cure Alzheimer’s Disease. This war will take many soldiers, tirelessly working together to find a cure. I want to join this fight. I have witnessed how unforgiving Alzheimer’s Disease is, and as a physician, I would be able to provide a unique perspective, understanding what patients and their families go through. That is, the perpetual loss, piece by piece, of a family member.
Why do I wish to pursue a career in the sciences? Simply put, it is the nothing that drives me. There is nothing that can be done for Alzheimer’s patients. There is no pill to temporarily alleviate symptoms, no treatment regimen, and no path to remission; there is nothing. It is the nothing that ceaselessly invades my grandmother’s life, forcing her to forget the life she lived, the family she loved, and the memories she had accumulated. But most importantly, it is the nothing I see in her tired eyes; the lack of energy, personality, and liveliness that once dominated her life.
They are gone.