Berger and Green proudly awarded its 2019 Heart Disease Scholarship to Jessica Findley, 19, of Austin, Texas. Jessica, a recent graduate of Vertis Academy in Austin, will begin her freshman year at Dallas Baptist University this fall. The scholarship is for $1,000.

This scholarship is open to any college student who has been diagnosed with heart disease or a congenital heart defect. Jessica was born with pulmonary valve stenosis, a congenital heart defect that can be quite serious. The defect affected her throughout her life. Her award-winning essay, Lonely Heart, chronicled her second operation at 17, which occurred in high school. Her first surgery was as an 18-month-old.

In her interview with us, Jessica said her faith helped her get through the fear of a surgery. “My faith was a huge part of my recovery,’’ she said. She was terrified of the surgery and its effects, as well as if she would survive it.

“God gave me peace about that. He also have me the strength to physically and emotionally recover.”

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She detailed the arduous physical journey, but then poignantly revealed the lonely personal journey one makes after this kind of surgery: “America needs to understand that, though a heart defect can be fixed with a scalpel and stitches, a lonely heart after the trauma of cardiac surgery requires time and empathy to recover.”

Many walked with her throughout this journey, including her parents, Randy and Jenna, and two sisters. The Findleys are business owners who were able to trade off shifts so that one ran the business while the other stayed by Jessica’s side.

Jessica’s condition, Pulmonary Valve Stenosis is a common congenital heart defect that varies from being mild to severe. The March of Dimes reports that one out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect and one out of four are quite serious.

Jessica has now made a full recovery from her surgery and will happily start college as a healthy, normal student with no physical limitations. Those who read the essay will be happy to know that she’ll take her fluffy pink bathrobe with her to the dorms.

Berger and Green launched this scholarship in 2017 with the mission that heart disease should not impede a student’s education and that every student has the right to pursue their dreams.

The deadline for the 2020 scholarship is June 15, 2020.

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