“Breathe, Pause and Enjoy Successes,” Says Dream Award Scholar Lily Meienburg
By Pam Carlson
Scholarship America Dream Award scholar Lily Meienburg has faced many challenges throughout her life.
“As someone with Type 1 diabetes, I was bullied as a child,” said Lily, a Findlay, Ohio native who was diagnosed at age 4. As she grew up, she realized the bullies were acting out of fear of what they don’t know or understand—and in high school, she founded Type Kind, an organization to promote a more inclusive environment for all children and end misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes and other chronic health conditions.
That was only the beginning of Lily’s outreach on behalf of Type 1 diabetes patients. She was also a youth ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for three years and served as their 2019 youth advocacy leader. She still speaks to groups and classrooms, including graduate level courses at The Ohio State University, where she is a major in business administration with a marketing specialization and a minor in fashion and retail studies.
Her health was just one thing Lily was dealing with as a young child.
“My family looked ‘perfect’ from the outside, and yet behind closed doors was far from it,” said Lily. “My father was physically, verbally and psychologically abusive to my brother, mother and myself for years. When I was 11 years old, my mother finally left after finding out that he had choked my brother while she was at work. We had to leave very quickly with only a few garbage bags of possessions.”
Adding to the struggle, Lily’s mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and went through numerous surgeries and cancer treatments.
In spite of the challenges at home, however, Lily was a very active high school student, serving as the volunteer coordinator for the National Honor Society and as cheer captain for both varsity football and basketball. She received the Three Rivers Athletic Conference All Academic Award for having a 3.75 grade point average, and she began taking college classes through Findlay High School before graduating in 2021.
Lily is now a junior at The Ohio State University in Columbus. A member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, she founded a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She is also external philanthropy chair and marketing co-chair for the Big Buckeye on Campus event which raised over $28,000 in 2022 and $32,000 in 2023 for breast cancer research and education.
“I am actually working on my LSAT test prep for law school admissions testing,” Lily said.
The Scholarship America Dream Award has lifted a weight off Lily’s shoulders. “Because of this scholarship, I have the time to join the Women in Business Club this year and continue volunteering through my sorority (Zeta Tau Alpha) as the external philanthropy chair,” Lily said.
Looking back, Lily said she would tell her younger self: “Breathe, because we made it! I have always been my biggest critic and while it has helped push me to the successes I’ve had, I would tell my younger self to pause and enjoy those successes along the way.”