Good Stuff

Remembering the ‘dragon’

“‘Fearless’ and ‘passionate’ best describe those born in the year of the Dragon,” said my aunt, reading off the paper placemat. “They missed ‘stubborn’ and ‘hot-tempered,’” she added wryly, winking at me.”

For Clara Luu, 18, her Amah (grandmother) was a mighty dragon who she watched slowly disappear. “When I see my Amah now, frail and hollow-spirited, her hair streaked with snow, her jade scales chipped and her breathing shallow, I am not sure-no, I am certain-that I do not know her,” she reflects. However, expressing her feelings has made Luu determined to become the “dragon” her grandmother once was.

In 2008, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) established an annual scholarship for teens to express the effect Alz-heimer’s disease had on them, their families and their community. This year, Luu, who plans to attend Stanford University, won the $5,000 scholarship award for her essay “Year of the Dragon.”

“I had never really thought as long and as deeply about my grandma and her condition, or about Alzheimer’s, as when I started to write this essay. Of course, I had learned about Alzheimer’s through news reports and even meeting some people who had it, but I didn’t really allow myself to acknowledge how it was in my own life, how it was affecting me personally. My essay is all about my thought process and growth as I started to open myself, and see how sad and frustrated I really was. As I was finally acknowledging these negative thoughts, like Pandora’s box, I found at the bottom…hope.”

AFA President/CEO Eric J. Hall comments: “These essays demonstrate powerful examples of resilience and compassion that we can pass on to other young people facing similar situations.”

AFA Teens is a division of the AFA, started by a teenager as a support and educational outreach to teens affected by Alzheimer’s disease. To read the winning scholarship essays, visit

…and more outstanding students

The 2011 AIAS/SAGE Student Design Competition, “Rebuilding HOME,” challenged students to renovate an existing Florida medical-model nursing home into one that encourages person-centered care. To see the winners’ projects, visit

To learn more about the AIAS/SAGE competition, visit

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Long-Term Living 2011 June;60(6):56

Topics: Articles