Ohio Northern University graduate student and Cardington native Julya Faulkner has spent her lifetime conquering adversity.
The Morrow County student was diagosed with Ewing’s Sacrome, a rare form of bone cancer, at the young age of eight.
As a result, she spent her elementary school years battling the disease with numerious operations, chemotherapy sessions and medical procedures at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus
“When I was first diagnosed, I basically missed my entire third-grade year. I was in the hospital for 16 straight days the first time and spent a total of 110 days in the hospital over nine months,” she says.
The cocktail of treatments worked and her cancer eventually entered remission.
Facing the severe illness early in life left a permanent impression on the Cardington student, who has spent the post-cancer portion of her life giving back to others, while paving a path toward a bright future for herself.
Since high school, Faulkner has invested her free time fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which focuses its efforts on improving the life of children facing life-treating illnesses.
“The foundation changed my life, and I want to make sure others have that opportunity,” she says.
Despite the time she spent volunteering, the Cardington was able to concentrate on her academic career and went on to graduate with honors from River Valley High School.
She then earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from ONU and is currently enrolled in the University’s Master of Science in Accounting program at the university.
“You beat cancer, but you still have to deal with it the rest of your life,” she explains. “It has really changed my attitude on life. I tend to be more sensitive to others and realize I do not know what they have been through. It also has made me very thankful. I never spent a night alone while I was in the hospital. A lot of people were there for my family and me when we needed it, and it is important for me to be supportive and give back to the community.”
In addition to her work with Make-A-Wish, Faulkner is currently training a dog through ONU’s 4 Paws for Ability program, to become a service canine.
“A dog such as this can really make a difference to a child,” she says.
Outside of school, Faulkner runs a successful cake-decorating business, Cakes by Julya, which provides desserts for campus events.
“While Julya’s challenges in life may be more than the average young adult, she is determined to tackle every obstacle and achieve the goals she set for herself both personally and professionally,” says Matthew Phillips, Ohio Northern University assistant professor of accounting.
To recognize Faulkner’s story, the school’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi awarded her with the Medal of Inspiration Award, which honors students who have overcome hardships in life to achieve a high level of success.
Beta Alpha Psi is an international honor organization for accounting, finance and information systems students. The award includes a $5,000 stipend.
“Julya is a perfect example of why the Medal of Inspiration Award was created. From a very young age, she experienced extreme hardship in her life, yet continued to persevere and achieve all of her academic goals,” states Yvonne Hinson, AICPA academic in residence. “She is truly an inspiration to her peers and anyone who hears her story.”
While an undergraduate student at ONU, Faulkner served on the executive board of her Beta Alpha Psi chapter, tutored fellow students and worked with the volunteer income tax assistance program to provide free income tax prep assistance. She also was recognized with the DeBow Freed Award for outstanding student leadership
“I am determined to not let the things I have dealt with hold me back from what I want to accomplish,” Faulkner says. “For me, it is not about the cancer as much as it is about how I deal with it and what I have been able to overcome.”
Julya Faulkner has invested her free time fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which focuses its efforts on improving the life of children facing life-treating illnesses.
Reach Jones at 419-946-3010 or on Twitter @zJones_1239