Scholarship established in Medina in honor of Jennifer (Kozody) Holbrook

Posted 2 November 2017 at 6:13 pm

Courtesy of Brian Kozody, brother of Jennifer (Kozody) Holbrook

Jennifer Holbrook

MEDINA – The Medina Class of 1980 are keeping the memory of one of their classmates alive through a newly formed scholarship. The first Jennifer (Kozody) Holbrook Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in the spring of 2018 to a Medina graduate who is seeking higher education while conquering obstacles.

The brainchild of Kathy Ridenour, she along with classmates Debbie (Cook) Morse and Angela (VandenBosch) Waldriff wanted to keep the memory of Jennifer alive by raising money for the scholarship honoring a woman who, despite facing serious medical challenges, always kept an optimistic attitude and smile on her face.

Jennifer was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1979 at the end of her junior year in high school. She immediately had a splenectomy and for almost a year, she received radiation treatments. Despite her weakened state, she continued a full active high school workload. In addition to being an “A” student, Jennifer, the class vice-president, was active in the Mustang Band, the acapella choir, cheerleading, daisy chain as well as other school organizations. She also was first runner-up for homecoming queen and was the 1980 winner of the Orleans County Junior Miss pageant.

Following a brief respite, the cancer returned during her freshmen year at college at Clarion State University in Pennsylvania. This time, she received chemotherapy for a year which caused her hair to fall out and further weakening her, but again, this did not deter her. She continued her education and graduated on time.

Eventually Jennifer received a clean bill of health but her immune system was compromised due to the treatments she received over the years. She continued her education and received her master’s degree from Nazareth College and taught in the Rochester area for 25 years as a Speech Language Pathologist working mostly with children with special needs.

In 2010, Jennifer contracted meningitis, was rushed to the hospital and was given last rites. Once again, she made a miraculous recovery. Her life would take another turn a few years later as her husband, Randy, was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away last year following a two-year battle with the disease. His final weeks were at home with Jennifer providing his primary care.

On July 6th Jennifer went into the hospital for a routine procedure. During that operation, surgeons discovered other abnormalities which needed to be addressed. During the next 40 days, Jennifer remained her optimistic self, greeting all visitors with smiles and the warmth that she exuded her whole life. She passed away on August 15th.

“Jennifer was a teacher, a friend, a woman of great faith, a bright light to all who knew her. Never did she give in, lose hope, complain or stop smiling through her life’s journey,” Morse said. “It seems befitting someone of this much character, joy and determination would be the first to encourage a student to chase their dreams no matter what comes their way. I’m sure Jennifer would be very humbled by a scholarship in her memory, but more so happy to see a young mind given a helping hand to reach their goals.”

The committee is hoping that this scholarship will become an annual award for future Medina graduating classes. Any person or organization wishing to contribute to the scholarship may do so by sending donations to: Jennifer Kozody Holbrook Scholarship, C/O Medina Central Schools, 1 Mustang Drive, Medina, NY 14103; Attention Christine Griffin.

Checks may be made to the Medina Central School District and it is required that Jennifer Kozody Holbrook Scholarship be placed in the “for” line.

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