Founders Scholarship recipient shows the power of perseverance

By Brittany Dunnigan

Rebecca Garvey may be a freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead, but life experiences have made her wise beyond her years.

Originally from Balsam Lake, Wis., Garvey participated in a variety of sports and school activities throughout middle and high school. During pre-season training for volleyball as an 8th grader, Garvey noticed she was not playing at her typical pace. She went to the doctor and had a CT scan, which revealed tumors constricting her airway.

Garvey was diagnosed with cancer at age 13, but never let this keep her from being a normal and busy teenage girl

“I did a lot of chemotherapy and radiation during the school year, but I never took a break from my classes. I did as much as I could and never missed a beat,” Garvey said. “Forcing myself to think I was normal and healthy like the other students helped me get through it. I didn’t act any differently, so no one treated me any differently, which helped me stay positive.”

Garvey refused to let the disease take her freshman volleyball season. After the diagnosis, her coach called the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and granted Rebecca permission to wear a bandana during games. Although the cancer slowed her pace at times, she worked just as hard as the other girls to earn her spot on the team, attend every practice and play in every game.

“You don’t even think about giving up – it’s just not an option at that point when you are going through something like that. You keep living your life in the best way you can,” Garvey said.

An active member of 4-H since the second grade, Garvey also worked as a 4-H camp counselor the summer she was going through treatment. She would occasionally have to work around her treatments, but did her best to be a teacher and leader.

Garvey’s radiation ended in August 2010, and she is now a happy, healthy, and incredibly busy college student. She is pursuing a degree in music industry while also considering a minor in design and stays busy with various musical ensembles and performances. She dreams of moving to Nashville and building her music career there. In the meantime, Garvey spends her days completing schoolwork and her evenings in rehearsal rooms, giving her all to achieve her dream.

“Through my battle with cancer, I discovered how powerful the mind is and how strong a person can be,” she said. “I have worked hard to get to where I am, and I am so proud and honored to be here now. I couldn’t have made it without the support of my family and community.”

About the Founders Scholarship

Garvey is one of 12 MSUM students chosen to receive the Founders Scholarship. This scholarship is named in recognition of the founders of MSUM and is funded exclusively by the Founders Scholarship Gala. This competitive $2,500 need-based scholarship is given to students like Garvey, who came from modest means, work hard, and will leave MSUM with a brighter future. Students must express their dedication to success, service and citizenship through an essay, and the winners are chosen based on their submissions and financial need.

The Founders Scholarship Gala, an annual fundraising event, will take place Feb. 20, 2015. All proceeds from the evening support the Founders Scholarship.

This elegant evening includes a social hour with free champagne and hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, mystery wine sale, a delectable formal dinner and dessert, cash bar, and live music, as well as presentations from several of the scholarship students.

To attend the gala, register at If you are unable to attend, please consider donating to the scholarship fund. There are various levels of donation opportunities available through the event’s webpage.