YuJa Announces 2024 Scholarship Winner

Karen Butterfield
Karen Butterfield
A photo of the 2024 YuJa scholarship winner.

More than 220 students submitted essays highlighting their experiences with online learning. A panel of judges selected Dylan Jiddou as the winner.

Dylan is a student at Wayne State University studying neuroscience. His essay, titled “The Unforeseen Journey: Online Learning and Its Impact on My Educational Experience,” highlights his experience with online learning both during the pandemic and while battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Read more about Dylan below and watch this video spotlight to learn more.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name is Dylan Jiddou and I am from Northville, MI. I am a sophomore at Wayne State University, majoring in Neuroscience on a pre-med track. I am a year in remission from my battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a very rare blood cancer, diagnosed my senior year in high school.

In the past year, I was able to turn my pain into an opportunity to help young adults fighting cancer. I currently am the founder/president of Metro Detroit Operation Smile – a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization where I am in the midst of developing an app where young adults and teens, like me, can meet and chat with others battling cancer.

In addition to my community involvement project, I am a huge sports fan. I was wrestler of the year in high school and attended every football and basketball game at my university this past year.

What has been your best experience in school?

After being home the majority of my senior year in high school due to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, it was great to start college right on time, and in-person! I enjoyed living with my 3 roommates and just being able to bike around campus. My best experience in school was playing in the schoolwide intramural football league, and finishing in the top 10 out of 110 teams! During the season, I was able to meet many new students, some of whom are my closest friends today.

“I’m very thankful that YuJa chose me as their 2024 scholarship winner. I know that there’s a lot of other people out there who may see this video we’re going through the same hardships that I had to endure, and I really think that my story and my essay can be an inspiration to some of those people and inspire them to keep moving forward. I know how hard it is physically mentally even spiritually and I just want to let them know to keep moving forward keep fighting and there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

What influenced your choice of major?

Being diagnosed with a pediatric cancer and experiencing firsthand the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments have led me down a pre-med track. Both chemo and radiation can have significant neurological side effects, including cognitive impairment (often called “chemo brain”), neuropathy, and other neurological disorders. A degree in neuroscience will help me to understand these effects better and find ways to mitigate them. Since I eventually want to be an oncologist, the research I will conduct during my neuroscience undergraduate years will help tremendously in my future endeavors.

How do you envision yourself in five years?

In five years, I hope to be in medical school pursuing a doctorate in medicine. Equally important, I hope to launch my app across all hospitals in my state, so teenagers and young adults battling cancer have a safe tool to communicate with one another.

What do you hope to learn from your college experience?

From my college experience, I hope to gain a deep and comprehensive understanding of neuroscience, equipping me with the knowledge and skills necessary for a career in medicine. Beyond academics, I hope to build leadership skills through extracurricular activities offered at my university. I will be able to use these experiences to manage/lead teams and develop other programs that will make an impact on my community.

Lastly, I hope to form meaningful relationships with my professors, mentors, and peers. Networking within my university community will be invaluable for my personal growth.

What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?

I am quite an adventurous person and enjoy many different types of extracurricular activities. I would say my top three activities I enjoy most are snowboarding, playing sports (baseball, basketball, football, and table tennis), and learning new languages.

Is there anything you would like to add?

One day, I hope to be able to travel the world and communicate in each region’s native language.

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