Acta impacts, impressed by scholarship recipients

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
On Twitter: @Castrovince

Manny Acta’s ImpACTA Kids Foundation’s annual scholarship program seeks to positively change the lives of two young scholars from the Cleveland area.

But every year, as he looks over the essays submitted by hopeful students, Acta can’t help but feel impacted himself. What he finds are stories of kids overcoming physical or financial difficulty or kids who simply never fail to put in the extra time and attention necessary to become aces in the classroom.

This year, Acta was blown away by the submissions of two young women — Twanisha Taylor of Maple Heights and Halle Herringshaw of Chardon. Both met the scholarship’s requirements — a grade-point average of at least 3.3, enrollment in a four-year university with a plan to major in the field of science, technology or business — but both had stories of experiences that went above and beyond.

“These girls,” Acta said, “are awesome.”

Taylor and Herringshaw each received a $2,500 scholarship as they prepare for their first year of college. Taylor plans to study biomedical engineering at Ohio Wesleyan University, while Herringshaw is enrolled to study biology at John Carroll University.

In her essay, Taylor, said she has known she wants to study biochemical engineering since her sophomore year at MC2STEM High School, where she became one of the startup school’s first graduating seniors. As part of a school project, Taylor, who finished school with a 4.3 GPA, helped create a survey that tested her school’s obesity rate, a presentation that included the Chinese language and an artificial heart using a motor.

“I have been hooked on a career in engineering ever since,” Taylor wrote.

Herringshaw was a member of the Chardon High School community that grieved in the aftermath of the school’s terrible February tragedy. She’s also endured personal difficulty, having been diagnosed with scoliosis that left her in constant back pain. Herringshaw had to make the decision whether to live with the pain or undergo a difficult and dangerous surgical procedure to repair the curve in her back.

“I knew the risks of the surgery included paralysis, extensive nerve damage and a possible shortened life expectancy,” Herringshaw wrote. “I also knew two eight-inch metal rods and 14 two-inch screws would be new residents to my body.  Without the risk, though, there was no room for improvement and plenty of room for regret.”

She went through with the surgery and two months of difficult recovery. Now, Herringshaw, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, hopes to be an inspiration to others, just as a young woman named Jane, who has muscular dystrophy and is permanently handicapped, was an inspiration to her during her recovery.

“I realize how truly extraordinary life is and that it should never be taken for granted,” Herringshaw wrote. “Life is too short to not be thankful for every single day that I can move with ease, breathe with certainty and love compassionately.”

Words to live by.

~AC

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