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Sallie Gucwa

2018 Spring Blessons Scholarships for Women Recipient                                 Mental Health Warrior & Survivor of Abuse

I currently live in Hammond, IN. I am divorced and re-married. I have two daughters, ages 15 and 2. I am currently attending a 4 year University pursing my Bachelors in Business Management. I am the Classifieds front-line floater for the NWI Times Newspaper (processing obituaries, legal notices, and classified ads). My career goal is to move into a management position that allows me the ability to help others. I want to be an active advocate for mental health awareness and work towards ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.

My previous marriage was emotionally abusive. I am not currently in therapy, but I did see a private therapist in the past. My eldest daughter did not receive counseling. I have been living away from him for over 10 years. I am not first-generation female immigrant. Yes, I do contribute to my household financially, I contribute just under half of our family income. We are not financially independent.

I had first attended Loyola University right after high school and lived on campus. My college career was interrupted in 2001, when I attempted suicide during my second year. The following year, I took a few classes part time as a local junior college, but was unsuccessful. Now, it is 17 years later and I am taking online courses part time while working.

I filed with FAFSA and received the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work Study/Student Work Aid, and a subsidized Stafford Loan. Loyola University provides an award for the SCPS initial course. I also applied and was awarded The Cooke Foundation Scholarship for Fall 2017 and the Alyce Salerno Scholarship for Spring 2018.

With mental illness, staying positive is a daily challenge. When I first applied for this scholarship, I was in a very good place mentally. Over the course of the winter, my illness has gotten worse and it has been a struggle to keep up. What keeps me going is knowing that this will pass and I will be stronger for it. I appreciate the happiness more and feel a great sense of pride in my accomplishments. Khit's words "Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison" really struck me as one of my goals is to work towards ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. I have recently started to be more open on my social media with my illness in the hopes of reaching out to others and to normalize the issue. It has always been very hard for me to make friends so I am excited to be a part of the Blesson's community and I hope to meet other amazing and strong women.

Last year (2017) was when I first felt well enough to go back to school. Exercise was a very important aspect of my improved mental health. At the time, I would run 5 days a week as well as do some weight lifting and yoga at home. Not only did running improve my mental health due to the physical reactions, it also gave me a sense of pride. Being able to run a 5k was an amazing accomplishment for me. Since winter has come, I have not been running and have definitely felt the impact of missing that exercise. In addition to exercise, I have also been more open about my mental illness on social media and with my co-workers and family. I decided that I cannot be a good mental health advocate if I was too embarrassed to share my own issues. Khit is right when she says "The greatest prison that we can live in is the fear of what other people think." Being open, asking for help, sharing my story, these things not only help my, but I hope that they will also help someone else. I would like to become a volunteer, be an Ambassador at my business, and participate in a race on behalf of Blessons, NFP. 

Sholarships are funded by the generousity of donors. Help us continue keeping Her Blessons Project alive by donating.

Thank you - Sallie Gucwa