Meet the Council

My name is Nicole Hartmann and I am 24 years old living in Plainsboro, NJ. At 15, I was diagnosed with epilepsy suddenly after having my first tonic-clonic seizure at cheerleading camp.  After going through the shock of my diagnosis, starting taking medication, and all of the other changes that come with an epilepsy diagnosis, I knew I wanted to help people like myself.  I immediately became part of the Epilepsy Foundation at both the state level in New Jersey and at the National level participating in the National Youth Council.  Currently, I am working toward helping those with epilepsy in another way - I am currently a first year medical student at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.  It is my goal to become a pediatric neurologist and focus on young people with epilepsy.  My mentality is that having gone through much of what my patients are going through will allow me to connect and to relate to them in a way that most physicians cannot.

Hello! my name is Maureen Mahon. I am currently a senior in nursing, and I am eagerly looking forward to graduation. I was born and raised in St. Louis, so after this year I am applying for jobs in other cities for a new adventure. Some of my hobbies include backpacking (my most recent trip was a 30 mile loop through the Maroon Bells Wilderness), running (completed my first marathon October 2013), cooking, and working in the non-profit sector to improve the quality of healthcare and education within the community for those living with a diagnosis of epilepsy. I was diagnosed with epilepsy in seventh grade, and since then, I have faced many uphill challenges, but along the way, I have learned the fun with not having to drive everywhere and how I can use my ability from having epilepsy to aid others. Fun fact about me: I testified on the senate floor for healthcare reform, and I have worked on both national and state level legislation for rights for those living with disabilities. I hope to share in this blog my aspirations, my abilities and motivations that have stemmed from my diagnosis, and inspiration for others with either diagnosis themselves for friends or family members with a diagnosis of epilepsy. This coming year I am embarking on a plan to run over 500 miles by May 2014 in gratitude for the hundreds of gifts in my life. Hope you journey along with me through my accounts of the coming months!

Hello, my name is Steve Mszyco. I am currently going to medical school in Philly with a plan to study neurology. Despite my hobbies being limited in school, I enjoy running, biking, and snowboarding when I can get out. I don't have epilepsy, but I have been interested in the condition since I was a child because my brother's friend (our neighbor growing up) had epilepsy. When I attended University in Pittsburgh I found another good friend who happened to have epilepsy. Around this time I decided I wanted to become a neurologist, and I quickly became involved with the Epilepsy Foundation. Ever since, I have learned much more about the challenges that youth face as well as the support they could use in living a happy life with their epilepsy. Volunteering with the Epilepsy Foundation has been a very fun and rewarding experience so far. I ran meetings for the Pittsburgh affiliate's youth council before joining National Youth Council in 2012. We have accomplished many things on both a local and national level. And just recently, we've begun to extend our reach overseas to provided support in an international community. My next blog post will update you guys on what we are doing to help those struggling with epilepsy in Nigeria, where its stigma is particularly strong and there is a broad lack of understanding.

Hi! My name is Samantha Davis; I am currently a senior at Arcadia University. I will be graduating with a dual degree this May, in Early Childhood Elementary and Special Education. I am super family oriented. I am one of five children, three sisters, one being my twin, and one brother. I love to stay active and in shape, within the past year I completed my first half marathon and the broad street run in Philadelphia. Although I have only been out of the country once, I would love to travel and explore the world. I have been skydiving and have aspirations to go zip lining in the Caribbean. I love the outdoors; I go camping every summer and love to fish. I have played soccer my whole life and plan to continue coaching in the future. I am a huge dog and chocolate lover. I have a deep passion for friendships, learning, and growing. I believe life is precious and I sincerely value every experience and journey that comes my way. My experience with epilepsy began when I was a senior in high school. During my senior I was awarded a scholarship through the Epilepsy foundation of New Jersey where I met Nicole Hartmann, another council member. After speaking with Nicole and realizing that I was not alone I immediately wanted to give to others what Nicole gave to me. From that point on I became a member of the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey. Now, being a member of the National Epilepsy Foundation, I am continuing my goal to  spread awareness and offer support in any and every way possible. 

Hi y’all! My name is Abby and I am 22 years old. I recently graduated from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN. Yes, that is a real place located in the South! I majored in Elementary Education and got a great job teaching 2nd graders in an elementary school. I graduated a semester early which just goes to show that anything is possible and that epilepsy does not define who you are. Last May I married my best friend which was quite a fun experience! We have one child, our dog, her name is Izzy! She is white, fluffy, and adorable if I don't say so myself! Some of my hobbies are playing a wide variety of sports, cooking many recipes off Pinterest, and shopping! All are fun to do! I was diagnosed at the end of my eight grade year with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. I have since been seizure free for almost six years. It has been an uphill battle but at the end of the day I wouldn’t change anything I have gone through because it has made me the person I am today. I can’t tell you my entire life story because that will leave me with nothing to blog about! I look forward to sharing some of the many things I am doing, and some of the things I have done. Hopefully it will be things you can relate to and maybe even help you.

Hey! I'm Sammi and I am 24 years old. Currently I am earning my M.S. in Health Communicaton at the Tufts University School of Medicine. I graduated from Emerson College two years ago with a B.A. in Theatre Education but decided to pursue my passion for health instead. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, where I have been involved with Chicago's Youth Council. My hobbies include acting, writing, and singing (I'm singing in Docappella, an a cappella group at Tufts). My experience with epilepsy began when I was 13 and was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. I have now been seizure free for almost five years, and I am so grateful for everyone who has helped me become proud of having epilepsy. My goal as a National Epilepsy Youth Council member is to help others be proud of having epilepsy as well. It is also important to note that I am obsessed with cats, TV shows, and stir-fry. 

Hi! My name is Emily Micklow. I was born in Philadelphia, raised in Bloomsburg, and graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Sciences in Biological Sciences.  I have lived in Pennsylvania my entire life and am excited for the upcoming year where some major life decisions will have me venturing to a new city in a new state.  
When I am not working, I enjoy reading, traveling, baking, running (baker’s guilt), and watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead (seriously though.. who is feeding the walkers rats!?).  I was diagnosed with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy when I was 10 years old and struggled with the misconceptions accompanying the diagnosis. One of my personal goals as a youth council member is to fight the stigmas associated with epilepsy and to prove that epilepsy does not have to dictate your life.  Although a person living with epilepsy may face some challenges and obstacles along the way, you choose the path that you live and with determination and perseverance, your future is at your fingertips. 

I’m Brandon Speer from Boulder, CO, I am 19 and living with epilepsy. My interests mainly revolve extra-curricular activities within my school such as Mock Trial, starting clubs and of course cooking pancakes and French Toast. I am currently attending the University of Colorado-Boulder and I’m working towards a degree in Microbiology. Apart from the sciences I am also very interested in public policy and plan to be working with many people in that area to pass impactful legislation at both the State and National levels to help people with epilepsy and their families. I’ve had epilepsy since I was 12 and I have had it under control for most of the time I’ve had it with very few breakthrough seizures in that time. Soon after being diagnosed to went to a camp for kids with epilepsy and left as a much happier person than when I went in. Soon after that I began working with the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado on their Youth Council and was a member until the very beginning of 2014. After leaving the Colorado Youth Council I transitioned to the National Youth Council and I have been working with them since then on our various projects. The many challenges that I have been presented with by epilepsy in my life have turned out to be a hard to see gift, without it I couldn’t be making the difference I am making and I would never have been able to meet all of the amazing people that I have been able to meet throughout the years.