Today I want to share with you an essay written by Chris Gage, one of Hannah's classmates. He is a senior this year, and he has granted me permission to share his college scholarship essay on my blog. The assignment was as follows: Consider an experience that has had a profound influence on any of your academic, creative, career, or service goals. Discuss how what you learned from that experience informs your future plans.
Here is what Chris wrote:
"The lessons that can be learned through the death of a friend are hard to find. The grief and shock of the death do not help in any way, but these life lessons are very important. These lessons can make something good come out of the friend's death, the silver lining of an extremely dark cloud.
Hannah Sullivan died in February of my junior year in high school. She was the person everybody liked. She was the person that people went to when they had any type of problem. If a person was having a hard time in class, Hannah would always help out. Hannah was the genius of the class and it was assumed that she was going to be valedictorian.
The summer before my sophomore year, Hannah went to a church camp and heard a sermon about the storms God gives to people to uplift Him. Hannah asked God to give her a storm; that storm was brain cancer. Hannah's storm brought the best out of her already amazing personality. She fought the brain cancer with grace, always with an unforgettable smile.
Hannah did use her storm to uplift God. She showed everybody what God could do. How his power can help any person in any way, and how God can reach any person in any way. God reached many of Hannah's classmates through Hannah.
Hannah always had faith in God. She knew God would always protect her. Her faith spread to other people. I was saved when I was seven, but Hannah's storm taught me that God would always be with me and help me with every challenge I face (writing this essay, for example). I know now that God will always protect me and never give me anything that I cannot handle. I will be able to handle all of the challenges life throws at me. All I have to do is give my all and trust that God will take care of me.
Hannah taught me to never give up and to always have faith in God. Hannah never gave up. She fought for a year. Seeing Hannah fight for as long as she did taught me to never quit. Hannah's goal was to bring as many people as possible closer to God. By bringing just one person closer to God, she accomplished her goal. I have many goals myself, and I know that if I never give up, no matter how the odds are stacked against me, I can accomplish my goals. This attitude has helped me get ready for college and this attitude will enable me to handle college.
Hannah's death affected thousands of people. She touched every person she met. The nurses that cared for Hannah said she always smiled, never complained, and was one of their best patients. That was how Hannah touched me before the cancer. She always smiled, always had an encouraging word, and never complained. Hannah's storm is how she touched everyone else and is how she taught those who already knew her a life lesson. I miss her, but am glad I found something good out of her passing. It destroys the dark cloud and turns the silver lining into gold."
I don't know who is on the scholarship board at the U of A, but if I were on it, Chris would definitely have my vote for a full scholarship! Thank you, Chris, for your kind words about Hannah and your willingness to share what you wrote...hearing stories like yours are a huge comfort to our family, and remind us what life (and death) are really all about.