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'As Seen on TV' - The best gift I ever received

Alisha Abramson

Alisha Abramson - Class of 2010

John Walsh, best known now for his show America's Most Wanted, was also the host of The John Walsh Show, a daily daytime talk show on NBC which aired in syndication from 2002 to 2004.

Truly blessed…that was how I felt appearing on national television on The John Walsh Show back in October 2003 as a sophomore from Louisville High School. That is how it felt when Walsh President Richard Jusseaume announced to America that Walsh University was going to give me a full tuition scholarship.

Our family financial troubles began when I was in the seventh grade. It all started on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, when my mom showed up for her job as security specialist at Kmart only to be told she as a part of a massive lay-off. A month later, my step father lost his supervisory job at East Manufacturing Company. My mom refused to take unemployment and we began selling off some of our things to make money. My parents held strong and refused to lose their home. And I tried to help out. Without telling them, I began to go to school early to help set up the school cafeteria in exchange for free lunches. I didn't want any of my family, friends or teachers to know how much we were struggling and how it was affecting me. So I worked hard and kept my grades up because what else could I do? And I prayed. Instead of weakening my faith, I found that mine actually strengthened during those three years.

I know it was God's hand that brought about the chain of events that led me to Walsh University. It began when Fox 8 News picked up the Kmart lay off story - I guess because the angle of it happening on Christmas Eve outraged so many people. From there, Good Housekeeping got a hold of my mom and ran a story on my whole family in its January 2002 issue. And then we got the call from The John Walsh Show. They were planning an upcoming program titled "The Bottom Line: How I Lost Everything" which featured John Walsh talking to families in similar financial situations. Before we knew it, producers were flying us to New York City to appear where we were told we would receive a special gift on the show. I didn't realize until later all the behind-the-scenes details that went into arranging the scholarship.

John Walsh's researchers were searching for an appropriate gift to present us and came up with the idea of a scholarship to a local university. Of course when they came across Walsh University, which shares their star's last name, they decided to investigate the school further and reached out to President Richard Jusseaume with their idea. At that point, they needed to collect my high school transcripts for Walsh to review as a part of the scholarship process. But when producers contacted Louisville High School for my transcripts, they were denied. Actually my high school counselors thought it was a joke or prank. It took Walsh's admissions office to officially step-in and request the transcripts before the scholarship could move forward.

Standing behind the curtains, waiting for our segment to be introduced, we watched other families receive their gifts. We speculated that we might get a new computer or maybe a gift certificate to a store. Nothing could've prepared us for walking on the stage, seeing President Jusseaume on that screen (he made the presentation by video from Ohio) and being told that I was the kind of student Walsh was looking for and that they would like to give me a four-year, full scholarship when I graduated high school. It was the pivotal, most defining moment in my life. My step father, who had made me promise that I wouldn't cry on national TV, was the first of us to break down. It was so emotional for everyone there and the greatest gift I will ever receive. After the show John Walsh himself took us back stage to talk about our financial ordeal and my future plans which I had hoped would be in the healthcare industry. He told me that after reviewing Walsh's website, his team had really thought it looked like the perfect place for me, and that it was only a fun coincidence that they shared the same name.

When we got home, the first thing we did was drive to Walsh. I had been past the campus many times living in the area, but this time, we got out and walked around. It immediately felt like home to me. And I vowed right then and there that I would never let Walsh regret this gift they gave me.

I just graduated in May 2010 and I'm now pursuing my dream to be a nurse. After four years I can honestly say, there is no other school that I would have rather attended. I thank God every day for the gifts He has bestowed on me. And Walsh University is at the top of that list.