Sandra Helmers Memorial Scholarship

1. Scholarship Application

Applicants must be a woman with epilepsy or a seizure disorder

Must be admitted to a U.S. college or trade school

Must be matriculating to their chosen program Fall 2022

2. Personal Essay (1000 word max)

Please attach a personal essay. This essay should highlight:

  • – Why you will benefit from this scholarship
  • – Please share any community service you have participated in
  • – Please share how epilepsy has impacted you and the challenges that you have faced.
  • – Any other pertinent information.
  • – 1000 words maximum

3. Academic/Professional Recommendation Letter

Please have someone involved in your academic career (teacher, professor, tutor, guidance counselor, coach) write a letter of recommendation indicating why the Sandra Helmers Memorial Scholarship will be helpful for your college education. 

This letter should speak to your character and work ethic. (1,000 word maximum)


4. Medical Recommendation Letter

Please have your doctor write and submit a letter of recommendation on their letterhead indicating why the Sandra Helmers Memorial Scholarship will be helpful for your college education. 

This letter should speak to your character and how epilepsy has affected your life. (1,000 word maximum)

About Dr. Sandra Helmers

Sandra L. Helmers, M.D., M.P.H. was a pioneer in the field of epilepsy and her distinguished career impacted not only the lives of people living with epilepsy but professional colleagues who she mentored and collaborated with as well.  

Dr. Helmers held many prominent positions including: Attending Epileptologist at The Children’s Hospital Boston, followed by Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Emory University until her untimely death from cancer in 2016.  She was a Fellow of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology as well as a member of the National Epilepsy Foundation Professional Advisory Board and the Practice Management and Treatment Committees of the American Epilepsy Society.

Sandra L. Helmers, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Helmers’ educational background is notable for receiving her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, completing internship at Columbia University, residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, and clinical neurophysiology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University.  Several years later, she returned to the classroom to complete an MPH at Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

Dr. Helmers major research interests include development of medical and surgical treatments for epilepsy including vagus nerve stimulation, epilepsy genetics, health outcomes, and health economics.  She is the recipient of many research grants and has published over 100 peer reviewed articles along with numerous book chapters.  Dr. Helmers had a passion for helping women and girls living with epilepsy as well as promoting girls entering the STEM fields.

Dr. Helmers was also a wife and a parent to four wonderful children.   She and her wife, Cathy, were together for 27 years.  Beginning in 1997 they added children to their family.  First there was Elizabeth who was born in China.  Next Friday, Elizabeth will graduate from the University of Georgia with a Masters Degree in Marine Science and Ecology.   She attended George Washington University as an undergraduate where she majored in Biology and competed as a Division 1 gymnast.   In 1999 they added Catherine, also from China to their family.  Catherine is currently a junior in the Excel Program at Georgia School of Technology.  In 2001 Ally came home from Cambodia.  She is now a sophomore at West Virginia Wesleyan University where is majoring in Health Science and competes on their Acrobatics and Tumbling team.  In 2005 Matt came home from Guatemala.  He is currently a sophomore in high school and plays soccer as often as he can.   

Helmers Family Photo
Dr. Sandra Helmers with her wife, Cathy, and 4 children

Dr. Helmers loved her family before anything else.   As serious as she took medicine, she was silly at home.  When asked what she did for a living she would reply “I work at Emory”.   To her children, she was “Amah”.  She taught her children compassion and a love of science.  She taught them to not let anything stop them from achieving their goals.  She taught them that they could lose everything except their education and to learn every day.  She showed them her happiness in doing something you love as she practiced medicine.  But most importantly as a parent and a doctor she taught people to pay it forward.

Dr. Helmers passing left a great hole in the hearts of many in the epilepsy community particularly, the community of My Epilepsy Story (MES) where she was a founding board member.  To honor Dr. Helmers’ distinguished career, My Epilepsy Story (MES) has created the Sandra Helmers’ Memorial scholarship for young women living with epilepsy who are planning to attend college or trade school.  To donate to the Dr. Sandra Helmers Memorial Scholarship please donate here.  We will begin accepting applications in the spring of 2021 for this scholarship.

Former Recipients

2021 Winner

Lauren Garcia (left), 2021 Helmers Scholarship Recipient

My name is Lauren Garcia and I was diagnosed with Epilepsy in the summer of 2016 when I was 18 years old. Currently, I am 23 years old and attending Texas Women’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX.  Initially, I attended Dallas College while my case was being studied. I underwent 2 EEGs in the hospital before my doctors knew how to best treat me. And when I was 21 years old, I had brain surgery.

Prior to my diagnosis, I had planned to join the AirForce; however, due to my disability that is no longer an option for me. I am now studying psychology and music with dreams of becoming a music therapist.  I am taking music classes online with Dallas College now and will audition for the Music Department at TWU next year. My plan is to further my education in disorders to both help myself and others. I am deeply determined to help people with various life issues.

Despite my age, it has been very hard living away from family in Dallas. My father’s guidance to remember my long term goals has helped me whenever I feel overwhelmed. By recalling why I’m here and the importance of managing my fears, I gain the patience needed to persevere through the rough times. Prayer, piano, and being emotionally honest with myself allows me to stay afloat. I wish to share these coping skills with others to teach patience, respect, and the joy of music. Ultimately, I am uplifted, happy, and excited by all the potential good I can do for others through my hard work and perseverance!