Congratulations, Kelly Mahon, the latest recipient of our Students Affected by Cancer Scholarship. Kelly, 49, of 4-S-Ranch in San Diego County, is a student at Arizona State University. She expects to graduate in Spring 2021 with two bachelor’s degrees — one in Sociology from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, and a CASP degree (Community Advocacy and Social Policy) from the Watts School of Public Service and Community Solutions.
Her essay highlighted her relationship with her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer on Mother’s Day, in 2006, just as Kelly was returning to college. A few months later, Kelly’s father unexpectedly died. She dropped school plans and work so that she could devote herself to her mother.
Her essay described a personal arc from a rebellious teen who fought with mom to a woman of dignity who only wanted to be of service. “In my teens and 20s, we were at war,” she wrote.
Kelly had been determined to pay her own way through college. She received an A.A. from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA, and was accepted to UCLA but couldn’t afford to attend. Instead, she started a career in marketing. In her 30s, the Southern California native began classes at California State University Long Beach. But helping her mother soon became more important.
“I again put my bachelor’s on hold. This time it was so I could be a good daughter,” she wrote.
Today, Kelly’s life is full of health and professional opportunity. Her mother is well and living on her own in Texas. Kelly works as a barista to support herself, volunteers at two San Diego organizations, and is a serious student. She volunteers at the San Diego chapter of PAWS, helping homeless, elderly, and lower-income people keep their pets. She also helps at an innovative organization called Kitchens for Good, which trains people who have been incarcerated in the culinary arts. The food is then delivered to lower-income households.
Returning to school after many years as a marketing coordinator was daunting, Kelly admitted. The last time she attended college, there was no internet or email. She asked her ASU acceptance counselor, “Where do I buy my books?” Her counselor, a little perplexed, answered, “Um, Amazon?”
So many of us at Ambient Edge have been affected by personal bouts with cancer or a loved one’s cancer. We know our customers are affected as well. That’s why we started the Students Affected by Cancer Scholarship.
Kelly’s story was both universal and unique. Enduring her mother’s cancer and her father’s death seemed unbearable at times. “I was really bitter and angry, but the thing I wanted to do was be the best daughter I could possibly be.”
She has advice for anyone starting this process. “I would just tell everybody, ‘don’t give up on yourself.’ … Don’t give up. Just take it day by day in small amounts and you can get through.”
For more information on our scholarship, check out our website.
Watch Kelly’s interview and read her essay.