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A Success Story - Tom Stiernagle

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Tom Stiernagle 

Tom is a freshman at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, majoring in Software Engineering.  Tom's experience with cancer has motivated him to set his goals beyond his capabilities.  He has survived Retinoblastoma.  In his own words:

I had retinoblastoma at a very young age.  I was only three months old.  Due to this, I can't remember much of my treatment.  The last thing that I remember is going in for post treatment checkups, of which I had every few months until I was about 5 years old.  I received a prosthesis around the age of three.  Since then, I have always had a prosthetic eye. 

During school, I was often excluded and known as 'that kid with only one eye.'  I found it very hard to cope with this at times, and I was often angry.  But as I got older, more people started to accept me.  Now, most people can't tell that I only have one eye.  They usually think that my artificial eye is a lazy eye due to its immobile state.  At my first job, many of my co-workers excluded me because they didn't know what was wrong with my eye, and they were afraid to ask.  Eventually, when they found out I had cancer, they were much more accepting.

I have learned that most people judge you by your appearance as soon as they see you.  People will see my eyes looking in different directions and instantly judge me.  I have also met a lot of people that embrace me because I only have one eye.  There are many kind people out there willing to accept me for who I am and not let me having one eye bother them.  Because of this, I try to be as kind as I can to everyone that I meet.  I hope that one day all people will accept me like these people do.

I am planning on going to college and pursuing a degree in software engineering.  Since this field is mainly entering code and working on computers, I think that having only one eye will not limit me much, if any.  But since I do only have one eye, I am going to work as hard as I can to be the best that I can.  I want to be as good as I can in software engineering so that I stand out above my peers.   

 Thank you so much for this scholarship.  Cancer Survivors' Fund is a great program, and it has helped me come closer to reaching my goals.  Thanks CSF!

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