Three Edmonds Community College students awarded scholarships through college’s community read program

Edmonds Community College Community Read scholarship winners are: Gloria Felicia, Mark Von Weber, and Jessica Pal.
Edmonds CC Community Read scholarship winners, from left: Gloria Felicia, Mark Von Weber, and Jessica Pal (left to right)

As part of the seventh annual Edmonds Community College Community Read, three Edmonds CC students — Gloria Felicia, Jessica Pal, and Mark Von Weber — were awarded scholarships for their project submission inspired by the 2013-14 Edmonds CC Community Read book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Kayla Crosby was awarded an honorable mention for her project. The three $1,300 scholarships, which cover spring quarter tuition, were funded by the Edmonds CC Foundation. The $300 honorable mention was funded by the Edmonds CC Art Department. The students will meet members of the Lacks Family when they present a lecture at 12:30 and 7 p.m. on April 23 at the Black Box Theatre on campus.

Gloria Felicia’s project is a 12-minute travel documentary featuring pictures of HeLa cells (named in honor of Lacks) from the Smithsonian Institution, in addition to three poems she wrote. “The ultimate goal of my project is to empower the millennial generation, our younger generation, to step up and act for the greater good of our world,” she said. Felicia is the student government’s Executive Officer for Academics. She plans to transfer to a four-year college next year, majoring in Business Management and Marketing.

Jessica Pal created an art project where she gives an overview of the HeLa story and connected it to her family in India. “After I was able to talk to my grandparents in India, I learned that because they were poor, uneducated, and of a lower cast, they were not provided appropriate health care,” she said. “Knowing that this could happen to anyone’s family, I thought that sharing and making known what has happened could only help others. If no one knew about HeLa’s story, there would be no such thing as the right to give consent, or many other medical benefits that HeLa has provided.”

Pal is a Running Start student who graduates from high school in June. She plans to transfer to a four-year college and major in biology, with the goal of applying to medical school. “My long term goal is to study medicine and hopefully become a doctor one day so that I will be able to give back to the community by helping them in any possible way,” she said.

Mark Von Weber’s project is a book review written for Health in Society, a sociology course from instructor Suzanne Bohmer. The project also included the “Home-House,” inspired by and dedicated to Henrietta Lacks as an interpretation of her life and legacy. Von Weber is currently a student navigator in the Veterans Resource Center and using his GI benefits to complete the paralegal program. He plans to continue his service to veterans in a legal setting.

For her project, Kayla Crosby — a Licensed Practical Nursing student — decided to express her thoughts and feelings of the book by using a series of poems from the different points of view shown throughout the book. “I wrote the poems in first person from the standpoint of Henrietta, George Gey, and Debora,” she said. “While reading the book, I felt like I was being pulled in different directions and wanted to convey the multiple directions the book took me as I learned about Henrietta, her family, and all of the good things that came from a bad situation. I bound the poems into a book resembling my version of Debora’s beloved Bible.

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