Gabrielle Peko, once a young patient at the Children’s Cancer Institute, is now a proud recipient of a $25,000 Garden of Dreams Foundation Inspire Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who seek to continue their education in college or vocational school programs. She is one of 14 recipients for this year’s round of scholarships.
Gabrielle was recommended for the Inspire Scholarship by Hackensack University Medical Center and was granted the honor by the Garden of Dreams Foundation in recognition of her academic excellence and achievements.
At just five months old, Gabrielle was diagnosed with leukemia. After a successful year of treatment at the Children’s Cancer Institute, she continued her recovery at Cure and Beyond. Gabrielle’s relationship with Dr. Michael Harris at Cure and Beyond has had a great impact on her, which Gabrielle’s mother, Jen, reflects on as a highlight of her experience. Dr. Harris has been very involved throughout Gabrielle’s high school career from being a guest speaker to providing insight for a school research project.
“Gabrielle sees Dr. Harris once a year and they have formed a nice relationship over the years,” Jen shared. “The bond between Gabrielle and Dr. Harris is so special and rare. I am in awe watching them discuss scientific concepts at her visits. Everyone has been positive, and it has been such a good experience for Gabrielle and our family.”
The Inspire Scholarship will help Gabrielle achieve her dreams of pursuing a career in medicine. With her scholarship, she will attend Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC this fall and study biology. The compassionate care from her doctors throughout her childhood played a key role in her desire to become a doctor.
“I feel incredibly blessed to have received the Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholarship,” Gabrielle said. “I have always loved biology, it’s a beautiful, complex, and constantly evolving area of study, and this has led me to pursue it as a major in college. Ever since I was a little girl, my heart was always set on becoming a doctor. Due to my battle with cancer, I have been surrounded by inspirational doctors who have served as role models for my dream. I am so thankful for all of the support I have received from both the Garden of Dreams Foundation and Hackensack University Medical Center’s Children’s Cancer Institute.”