The family of Jayne Lee Andreseen turned tragedy into opportunity for other local students.
Jayne died in 2005 at the age of 13 after a courageous battle with a rare form of pediatric cancer. Pleasant Valley High School student Lila Teitle, as the most recent recipient of the Jayne Lee Andreesen Memorial Scholarship, carries Jayne’s legacy with her.
“It was such an honor to be picked for this special scholarship,” Lila, now a first-year student on the pre-med track at Duke University, said in a Tuesday release from the Quad Cities Community Foundation. “The Andreesens and the scholarship committee were kind enough to put their faith in me to go out, study, and help people like Jayne in the future.”
“We’re always overwhelmed by the students who apply, and Lila is an outstanding student and person,” said Jayne’s mother Nancy Andreesen, who established the scholarship through the QC Community Foundation with her husband, Jeff, in 2006.
The criteria they developed for the scholarship—including high academic achievement, strong moral character, and community involvement—reflect the qualities their daughter embodied, the release said.
Recipients must also have ambitions to enter the healthcare field. Each year, the Andreesens review applications for their scholarship alongside a diverse committee of community volunteers, who make the ultimate selections.
“We’re happy that we’ve been able to do this. Jayne would be very proud to know her legacy lives on, making a difference,” Nancy said.
Jayne was a high-honors student at Pleasant Valley Junior High. She was an active member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bettendorf and a gifted musician, playing violin in the Pleasant Valley School orchestra, clarinet in the band, and singing in the choir.
Diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma of the mediastinum at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, she bravely underwent a 42-week treatment protocol including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. While she was found cancer free in January 2005, she was diagnosed again that same year and passed away that November.
During those years, Jayne was a member of Gilda’s Club, recognized as an honorary survivor for the first annual Daffodil Gala, and spoke during the opening ceremony of the 2005 American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Bettendorf High School.
Courage, love, and joy were the three words she chose to describe her journey in her speech, according to the foundation release.
“It just takes one person at a time who can help in either some big or small way to help fight cancer,” she said.
Jeff and Nancy created the Jayne Lee Andreesen Memorial Scholarship to honor Jayne’s memory and invest in the future of students like Lila.
To date, 18 Pleasant Valley seniors have received the $1,000 award, but the impact of the scholarship grows exponentially as recipients enter the healthcare field.
“There were a lot of people along the way who helped our daughter,” said Nancy. “The students who receive this scholarship go forward and help other people.”
More than 70 scholarships
The Jayne Lee Andreesen Memorial Scholarship is just one of more than 70 scholarships totaling over $500,000 open to local students right now through the Community Foundation.
Scholarship opportunities are available for high school seniors as well as those who have already graduated. There are opportunities for students no matter their age or where they’re pursuing higher education, from community college and four-year universities to trade and technical schools.
The deadline for applications is Feb. 15, 2023. Students can fill out one common application to determine all the scholarships they’re eligible for.
The application is available at the Community Foundation website HERE.
“Every scholarship has a story behind it, and it’s a privilege for us to play a role in lifting up stories like Jayne’s for those who come after,” said Kelly Thompson, the Community Foundation’s vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives. “When we can help forge connections between students, generous community members, and the legacies their gifts celebrate, our community becomes that much stronger.”
For Lila, the scholarship is more than a generous financial contribution to her education. “It feels particularly special because I moved away from my community to study,” she said. “It represents the faith the community has in students like me to be able to go out and do great things.”
In learning Jayne’s story, the Andreesens hope students will pause to reflect on the privileges they’ve been given and the difference they want to make with their lives. “Don’t take things for granted,” said Jeff. “It’s important to stop and think about where you are because a lot of kids don’t reach the point of getting to apply for something like this, and Jayne was an example of that.”
“Our message is: Make the best of every day and the gifts you’ve been given,” added Nancy. “Don’t take those lightly—use them fully.”