We are pleased to announce the winner for our 2023 College Scholarship Essay Contest!!

And the winner is…Conner Arneson

The Winning Essay

Why Me?

Throughout my life, I have battled cancer – specifically, neuroblastoma, one of the most common cancers in children. I was treated aggressively with chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, immunology, radiation therapy, high-dose Isotretinoin, and a few surgeries (about 12). I used to cry at night when I thought about the childhood cancer commercials I saw on TV. I was terrified. Why me?

After my adrenal gland was removed, the cancerous cells in my blood went down my spine and settled in my right femur. Not a day goes by when I am not thankful to be healthy and alive today. I had a friend in the hospital named Austin. He was one of the funniest people I have ever met and was the best friend a kid could have. As I am writing this I can sill hear his laughter in my head; it could light an entire room up. After diagnosis, his neuroblastoma went up his spine instead of down. We lost him in 2011 and it breaks my heart to know a young girl named Falyn who is currently in this fight. I often ask myself why they have to suffer. Why I survived. Why me?

This guilt made me live in the shadow of my full potential. In my freshman year of high school, Ms. Cooper, my advanced geometry teacher, brought me into the hallway. She asked me if I have ever studied for one of her tests. I was confused at first, but was honest. I told her no. She smiled. She told me I was one of the brightest students she had ever taught. She had strongly recommended that I take accelerated pre-calculus during my sophomore year – a class that was usually taken by seniors. I love math. I wanted to take it. I did. But although I was cancer free for years, this disease can make you feel like you are not human. No matter what anyone said, I did not believe in myself. I took on-level Algebra II instead. I thought I couldn’t be great. Why me?

Enduring cancer made it hard for me to reach my full potential; at the end of that school year, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I even suffered from suicidal ideation in 2021 because the possibility of a relapse was such a dark cloud over my head. I still have insomnia. This disease never truly leaves you. I needed to find hope: so I decided to volunteer with Furkids of Alpharetta. I realized I hold a great passion for helping others. My greatest desire, to help those who cannot help themselves, took shape in biomedical sciences.

Why me? I’ve been given my entire life to prove it. Whether it’s through neurological research or becoming an oncologist myself, I will always be dedicated to saving the victims of cancer to make up for those who couldn’t be saved.


1. What school are you attending? 

Georgia State University

2. What is your major?


3. What plans do you have after you graduate?

With research, I’d like to discover the key to artificial tissue. And eventually, an artificial brain. A living computer! Extraordinary.

I also hope to get into medical school to study neurosurgery. 

Someday, I will start a non-profit organization for families unable to afford treatment.

4.  What are your interests and hobbies?

Video games have always been a big hobby for me. Sadly, I haven’t had much time for them away from home, but it is probably for the best. 

I think cars are pretty cool. 

I think rockets are really cool.

Music, of course – everybody likes music! My top 3 genres are ambient, hip-hop, and rock.

I read philosophy and do my absolute, utmost, mind-bending best to understand it.

I practice mindfulness.

I meditate.

5.  Share whatever you would like about who Conner Arneson is.

When I was little, I loved reading fiction – Percy Jackson, the Chronicles of Narnia, dot dot dotBut, without a doubt, Harry Potter was my favorite: The Boy Who Lived! I must’ve read that series a hundred times. During treatment, it helped to have another world to escape to. I thought Harry’s scar was so cool. It made me feel better about mine. When I lost a great friend, I looked up to the boy who’d lost both parents. And Voldemort, the ugly monster – I had one to fight, too.  Thank you, Harry Potter. You taught little bald me that courage certainly goes a long way when facing the impossible.

Meet Our 2023 College Scholarship Essay Winner…Conner Arneson

A Word From Our Executive Director

Leave a Reply