Katie Merrill 2015

The International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) is pleased to award a $500 scholarship to Katie Merrill of Arvada, CO for the 2015-2016 academic year. Katie is one of four students from across the nation to receive a scholarship award from the IETF.

Katie has a passion for raising awareness. In March, for National Essential Tremor Awareness Month, Katie wrote a short article for her local newspaper about essential tremor, and it was published. In the article, she described what essential tremor is and how it affects her life.  She explained how her signature ends up as an illegible scribble and how eating becomes an embarrassing game of paddleball. “I get really frustrated sometimes; when I can’t get the spoon to my mouth or I’m tired because I spent all night writing out my math homework,” said Katie. “It’s as if ET took over my brain, and I let it.”

Katie got to a point in her young life where she allowed ET to control her. She allowed it to scare her away from activities and challenges that she could have done, but did not even try because of her ET. “I used it as an excuse. But that was then, and this is now,” Katie said. “I don’t do that anymore. I decided that ET is just a technicality. It’s something I have, but it isn’t what defines me.”

Now Katie faces new challenges head on. She has taken up photography, in addition to being active in drama, marching band and the school newspaper.  And although she hasn’t decided on a major yet at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, KS, she is loving life and finding her way the best she can. “I tell people I have an alien in my brain.” Katie explained. “It’s a great ice breaker. Plus, it gives me a chance to raise awareness about essential tremor and make a potential new friend. It’s a win-win.”