“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”: Dream Award Scholar Aubrey Stromberg
By Pam Carlson
Midwest Dream Award Scholar Aubrey Stromberg has always had big dreams—and she immediately identified with a quote she saw on social media from Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”
“Pushing through scary times is what allows you to step up and make a difference,” Aubrey says—a lesson she learned going through several challenges growing up.
As a child living on a farm in Nebraska, Aubrey’s dream of becoming an oncology pharmacist grew from seeing her dad fight with cancer throughout her childhood.
“I spent countless nights at friends’ houses while my parents traveled five hours to the nearest oncologist who specialized in carcinoid cancer,” Aubrey stated. “I learned to care for my three younger siblings and to be self-sufficient.”
Her dad finally entered remission when she was in middle school.
“I want to make a difference in the lives of others affected by this horrible disease,” Aubrey said. She wishes to work in a rural area where healthcare for oncology patients is limited.
When the pandemic started and classes went online, Aubrey was a junior at Lakeview High School. “Living in the country proved difficult for this because we do not get good internet service,” she said.
And that was only the start of a new struggle. Aubrey’s brother and dad were remodeling the family home and hit a wire, sparking a fire that led to both property damage and injury.
“My dad was shocked by the current and thrown from the roof, and our house burned before firefighters could contain it. My dad spent weeks in the hospital with many broken bones, and our house had to be rebuilt from the studs. My family has struggled financially since the fire.”
“Dealing with so many negative events pushed me to work that much harder,” Aubrey said. She juggled working two jobs with schoolwork and managed to excel in spite of those difficulties.
Her manager at Peterson Drug, Pam Yates, said Aubrey started as a scanner, but quickly moved into a role with responsibility for working with clients to get them medical equipment and supplies and connecting with their insurance to make sure of coverage.
“She has been one of our best employees,” Pam said.
Currently Aubrey is studying chemistry at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. “After graduating, my dream is to go to pharmacy school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha,” she says.
The Scholarship America Dream Award will help Aubrey focus on school and work a little less.
“For the past two years, I’ve been working 20-30 hours a week. I will be able to cut back on my hours and spend more time studying and doing activities that I enjoy,” she said. “One of these activities is the TeamMates program where I get to mentor an elementary student. I will also be able to attend more meetings for the Health Professions Club at my college, which is a great opportunity to connect with my peers and professionals in the health field.”
Aubrey discovered the Dream Award Scholarship while researching scholarships online. She explained, “The Dream Award popped up in my Facebook feed. I figured there was no harm in trying for it. I was shocked to find out that I won. I am so thankful for that Facebook ad!”