Emily Ryan, age 17, Bayonne, NJ
Emily says, “Without his (Dr. Guthrie’s) research, hard work, and dedication, I would not have such a bright future. He made an impact on thousands of lives, and I hope that I can follow in his footsteps.” With her keen intelligence, talent, and determination, there is every reason to believe that Emily will indeed have an impact on many people’s lives.
Emily’s positive outlook on life extends to her diet. She states, “Instead of being upset that I have to deal with it, I just embrace it and realize it is a part of me without letting it ruin my life. PKU does not define who I am; it is just one small part of who I am. It has taught me a lot about tolerance, acceptance, sacrifice, and self-discipline.”
Emily’s diet is always well-controlled, with consistent blood phe levels between 2 and 10 mg/dl. She credits her family with helping her to maintain such good levels: “They always make sure there is something for me to eat when we have dinner every night and my mom makes me plenty of low protein snacks, like cookies and pizza.”
Enrolled in a very challenging curriculum at Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, New Jersey, Emily has distinguished herself with top grades in Honors and Advanced Placement courses, as well as receiving college credit in English. She also participated in a Summer College Scholar Program at nearby St. Peter’s College and took competitive courses. Her teacher for creative writing and Honors English says about Emily: “She approaches each assignment with a voracity I have rarely seen as a teacher, often achieving excellence in a short amount of time. She is hardworking and dedicated, also open-minded and persistent, and she excelled in every new writing challenge I presented her.”
While maintaining her high academic standing (weighted GPA of 4.15), Emily also participates in many extracurricular activities. She was selected as an assistant editor of the yearbook as a young sophomore, and has taken on the challenging role of co-editor-in-chief for the past two years. She writes, interviews, edits, plans layouts, and organizes the staff.
Emily uses her talents in many other ways. For example, she is vice-president of the National Honor Society and provides peer tutoring to students who are struggling academically. She helped organize an academic “pep rally” to challenge other students. For all four years of high school, she also has participated in the Fontbonne Scholar’s Program, composed of academically advanced students who gain learning experiences outside the classroom through seminars, group discussions, and projects.
Not just an intellectual, Emily also enjoys sports. She coaches Pee Wee basketball twice a week, is helping to coach a grammar school volleyball team twice a week, and is on the school’s bowling team. She received the Coach’s Award, given to only one student, for her dedication, talent, and respect by coaches and peers.
Emily’s remarkable empathy for others is evidenced in many ways through her volunteer activities. For example, she grew her hair long and then donated it to help cancer patients improve their morale. She also goes with her mom and friends about once a month to a homeless shelter where she helps prepare and serve dinner.
Emily also is an inspiration to others with PKU. She actively participates in clinic activities, such as Teen Day Program, and represented her clinic at a market research company’s two-day seminar where she contributed ideas for future PKU metabolic formulas and low protein foods.
Her guidance counselor states, “Emily is focused, driven, and self-motivated. She demonstrates superior intelligence, character, and leadership which will make her an asset in any environment. She also is kind, honest, and thoughtful, and possesses an integrity and character that is refreshing.”
Emily plans to major in Creative Writing and English in college next year.