Mason LeMay, a sophomore majoring in exercise science, is an Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) Scholar for 2017. This article from the Spring 2017 issue of “ACI Reporter” is reprinted with permission.Mason LeMay
Olivet Nazarene University
When she attended Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, Mason LeMay worked with an organization called Best Buddies, a volunteer organization that works to improve and enhance the lives of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Since her freshman year in college, she has volunteered her time with organizations such as the River Valley Special Recreation Association which provides programs, activities and Special Olympics for adults.
The first in her family to attend a four-year college, LeMay brought these interests with her to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, about five minutes from her home. Majoring in exercise science with a minor in psychology, LeMay is focused on attending graduate school to study occupational therapy, with an eye on becoming a pediatric occupational therapist.
"Originally I was looking for physical therapy, but the population I want to work with is adults and children that have disabilities," she says. "I have really enjoyed watching patients grow and regain the strength they had prior to the accident or the illness that caused them to lose function or strength."
LeMay, a sophomore, knows first-hand about serious illness. In September 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare cancer. She took a year off from school for treatment, including chemotherapy.
With the cancer cured, she began planning for her return to Olivet Nazarene for the 2016 fall semester. Because the costs of cancer treatments are high, the university awarded her a McGraw Emergency Financial Aid grant from ACI to help her return last fall. The ACI scholarship was helpful to her family, she said.
"The scholarship helped me return to school after being diagnosed," she says. "It lessened the financial burden for my parents who were helping pay for college. They were able to put more money toward the medical bills that we received."
LeMay has made the most of her college experience. She has been on the dean's list twice for academic achievement. LeMay plays for the university's junior varsity volleyball team, continuing an interest she developed in the sport at a young age. "I've actually gotten the opportunity to help coach a local club team," LeMay says. "It feels good getting to share the same passion with younger girls, and I hope they develop the same passion that I have."
She also continues to work with Best Buddies through Olivet Nazarene, which supports residents at Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee. Student volunteers such as LeMay spend time with buddies, and host events or parties for Shapiro residents.
What keeps LeMay at Olivet Nazarene are small classes, professors who care, her faith and friends who supported her through difficult times. Unfortunately, LeMay won't be able to graduate with the students she started with, but there is a bigger goal, she says.
"I've realized in college it's not a big deal to graduate with your friends," LeMay says. "It's much more about the education you receive in college and everything you're learning for a successful career."To learn more about the educational opportunities Olivet offers, contact the Office of Admissions at email@example.com or 800-648-1463.