College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Jan Egerton and Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship

Sponsor:   |  Application Deadline: March 23, 2016

Scholarship URL:

Scholarship Description

MesotheliomaHelp is pleased to announce the “Jan Egerton and Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship.” We are proud to offer 8 scholarships in the names of these two mesothelioma warriors.

Jan Egerton battled mesothelioma for over 10 years and during that time she dedicated her life to raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos and to championing the researchers to continue to focus on finding a cure and new treatments for the cancer. Jan’s husband said, “I know Jan would be delighted to have this accolade, and I would be honoured for you to use Jan’s name. This is a legacy of which she would be proud.” Jan was one of last year’s judges.

Don Smitley spent his days enjoying time with his family, his dog, Charley, and playing in his bluegrass band, The Dunbar Boys. No one ever heard Don complain or wonder, “Why me?” while he fought mesothelioma. But everyone that knew him would say that faith and a positive attitude carried him through each day. Don’s daughter, Jennifer Gelsick, chronicled her family’s journey during mesothelioma, and now discusses life after losing a loved one to mesothelioma through her blog. “We are so honored to have Dad’s name on the scholarship. It’s such a perfect way to remember and honor him,” said Jennifer. Jennifer will be one of the essay judges this year.

The scholarship is available to students in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Our goal is to help the educational efforts of students while raising awareness of mesothelioma, provide information about its prognosis and the dangers of being exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a disease that affects men and women – both young and old.

Eligibility Requirements


This essay contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are 18-years-old or older and are currently enrolled in a college or university located within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. U.S. territories are excluded.

Previous first place winners are not eligible for participation.

Application Information

Essay Topic

Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. The only established cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Most victims were unwittingly exposed to asbestos at work or while serving in the military. Still others developed mesothelioma through exposure from family members coming home from work with their clothes covered in asbestos fibers.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the annual number of mesothelioma deaths is increasing. According to experts, over 20 million people in the United States are at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.

We believe it is important to get the facts out about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, and especially, to help educate young Americans by researching and writing about one of the below topics:

  • A mesothelioma survivor’s personal story.
  • A history of asbestos use in America.
  • The latest developments in the treatment of mesothelioma.

Essay Length

The essay must be no fewer than 750 and no more than 1,500 words long.


  • Essays will be judged by Jennifer Gelsick, former caregiver for her father, Don Smitley, who passed away from mesothelioma in October 2013, and Lisa Hyde-Barrett, a thoracic surgery nurse.
  • Submissions will be judged on content, correctness of facts, grammar, style, and originality.
  • Judges will look for clear, original essays that are logically organized and well-supported.

Selection Process

Due to the popularity of social media and the ability to reach a wide number of people to educate them about mesothelioma, this year’s contest will include a public voting aspect. The judges will select the top 4 essays through the criteria listed above. The top four finalists will then have an opportunity to use social media to help determine their final placement.

A page will be created on for the essays. A link to the essays will be provided to the finalists when they are notified of their placement.

The top four winners will be notified on the dates found on the sidebar on the right and will have three weeks to garner votes for their essays and to request citations (links) from other academic sources. Finalists should encourage their friends and families to read their essays through sharing on Facebook, Google+ or via Twitter postings. A specific #hashtag will be used to track the activity.

The winners will be determined by a combination of the number of votes for their essays and for the number of citations (links) from other academic works. Note that links are weighted more heavily than votes and each citation counts as 100 votes. Please note that we reserve the right to exclude any websites from the final tally that we deem inappropriate or irrelevant.

Please refer to the FAQs for examples of appropriate and inappropriate citations.

At conclusion of the voting period, the top five finalists will be selected and notified.

Winner Notification

  • The top four finalists, as selected by the judges and will be notified via email
  • Winners will be announced to the public

To Apply to the Essay Contest

  • Fill in “Your Information” in the downloadable application to the right.
  • Read the Rules and sign the application.
  • Return this form by email (also download the PDF application here).
  • Email your original essay to

Specific dates for applying and announcing the winners will be published on this page in the coming weeks.

Contact Information

Robert Padgett

546. Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10036
United States

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