Announcing the 2020 Winner of the Student for Seniors Scholarship

Caitlin Crow

2020 was a difficult year for us all. One bright spot for us at Alert1 Medical Alerts was to help out a student who is passionate about helping seniors in their community with the 2020 Student for Seniors Scholarship.

For the 2020 scholarship, we offered $500 to the winning submission. Plus, we gave an additional $500 to their referring school to help them continue their great work. This year we asked for students to answer the following questions:

  1. Share a time when you helped a senior citizen keep their independence.
  2. Share a time when you helped a senior in the pursuit of happiness.
  3. How will you help seniors in your chosen career?

We loved reading all of the submissions, and are thankful to the 831 applicants who took the time to submit their stories reflecting on their experiences with the older adults in their lives.

We are excited to announce the winner of Alert1’s 2020 Student for Seniors Scholarship: Caitlin Crow!

Meet Caitlin

Caitlin impressed us with her writing ability and her focus on helping the seniors in her life maintain their independence. We asked her to share a bit about herself:

“Caitlin is a motivated student that grew up in a small town, Hawley, Texas. She graduated from high school in 2020, and entered college this fall, at McMurry University, as a junior, due to the dual enrollment hours she took in high school. Caitlin runs for the cross country and track teams and plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys spending time with her family and gardening. Caitlin has a passion for helping others, volunteering regularly at the local rehabilitation center and hospital. After graduation, she hopes to open her own therapy clinic in a rural community like the one she grew up in.”

And her response to winning the Student for Seniors Scholarship?

I am so honored to be chosen as an Alert 1 scholarship recipient for 2020. I have a passion for helping others, and this scholarship will help me continue to pursue my dreams to achieve my goal of becoming an occupational therapist. I will pay this forward by my service to the senior community in the future. Thank you!!

Thank you Caitlin, for your dedication to the senior community! We have shared Caitlin’s winning answers below. 

Share a time when you helped a senior citizen keep their independence

“My great-granddad is an 89 year old firecracker. He has the best jokes,  gives the best hugs and is an avid gardener. He isn’t able to live alone anymore, getting around and caring for himself is a struggle. When he moved in with my family, the first spring he wanted a garden like he had at his old home. My parents knew he wasn’t going to be able to do the typical garden that he had done it the past. He was wheelchair bound now- and bending over to pull weeds from the ground wasn’t something he would be able to do. We could have done it all for him- but that would have defeated the whole purpose of his garden. He wanted- he needed- a way to tend to HIS garden. 

So my dad and I cleared a spot in our backyard, just off the ramp we already built him just before he moved in. We built a fence, with an extra large self locking gate, so he could get in the area in his wheelchair. 
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get the plants at a level that he would be able to tend to them. We bought horse troughs- 4 of them- that were very large. We placed all four of them in each corner, with enough room for him to be able to access it all the way around. After that, we installed a watering system with soak hoses, so he only had to turn the water on and off. 

Since his garden revamp- we have had squash, tomatoes, and jalapeno with every meal in the summer. We spent a lot of money on the makeover, but enabling him to keep his independence for his passion, is priceless.”  

This story about how Caitlin and her family helped her great-granddad age in place caught our attention immediately. It is a great example of how aging doesn’t have to keep you down. Aging in place, moving in with family, and admitting that you need assistance doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the activities you enjoy. We admire Caitlin and her family’s creativity in making gardening accessible. We love that they didn’t attempt to do the gardening for him, but rather enabled him to tend his garden on his own. Now that is how you help your loved ones keep their independence.

Share a time when you helped a senior in their pursuit of happiness

"Last Christmas break, as I was sitting around the house, talking to my 89 year old great granddad, he was talking about how he hates that he has lost contact with so many relatives. He isn’t very mobile, and our family is pretty distributed among the country, so there are several grand kids and cousins that he wishes he got to see and talk to more. 

So I did what any teenager would do. I got him a Facebook account. He doesn’t have a cell phone, but we had an extra iPad around the house, and we have WiFi, so with a few downloads he was good to go. 

With a little time, and a few chuckles on my family’s part, he figured it out. He is now friends with all his grand kids, the older great grand kids, and several cousins. He gets to see their pictures and status updates- and add a funny comment here and there. While we can’t get him out to see everyone, I was able to help him bring them to him. His happiness, his family, is at least somewhat at his fingertips- and he loves it."

Learning a new technology can be difficult for the older adults in our lives. But as the pandemic keeps us apart, keeping in touch remotely is increasingly necessary. We are so glad that Caitlin’s granddad is now able to keep in touch with their family!

How will you help seniors in your chosen career?

"I am going to school to become an occupational therapist. When I was 10 years old, I broke my elbow while jumping on the trampoline. I had to have surgery, and a screw put in my left elbow. After the swelling went down, I had to go see an occupational therapist several times a week.

Most of my appointments were at the same time as a sweet older lady, Nancy, who suffered from a stroke. The exercises she had to do, while seemingly easy for onlookers, physically wore her out. We talked while we were under warming wraps. She was a teacher in her younger days. She had four kids. And nine grand kids. She loved to garden and played the piano. Now she was trying to pick up a fork.

I was fascinated with my therapist.  Even at the young age of ten- I knew what she was doing was so important. She isn’t just going to work everyday, paying the bills, she is restoring dignity in people’s lives. Helping them be able to do daily tasks- that we all take for granted. If that isn’t making a difference- I don’t know what is. From then on, I have known what I wanted to do with my life. I want to make a real difference. I will be helping people of all ages, a large portion of them being senior citizens, restore their independence."

We love that all of Caitlin’s stories have the theme of restoring dignity to people’s lives. That is a crucial component of senior care. We are excited to see where Caitlin’s education takes her, and wish her all the best in her pursuits!

You can enter the 2021 Student for Seniors Scholarship!

Are you a current student who is passionate about helping the seniors in your life and community? We encourage you to apply for the 2021 Student for Seniors Scholarship! We are looking forward to reading your entries next year. Please visit our scholarship page for the details on how to enter your submissions.