Allison Carcella

Allison Carcella moves forward in pursuit of higher education


Allison Carcella ’25, a first-year Alvernia student studying English, was recently named a 2021-2022 recipient of The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship. Each year, the scholarship, which is funded through the Transplant Foundation and supports the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program, issues $2,500 awards to transplant recipients seeking higher education. Carcella is using this scholarship in her pursuit of higher education at Alvernia.


“Her [Jessica’s] parents wanted to give other children with transplants the opportunity to go to college like she wanted to. This scholarship has been a massive help in making college actually affordable for me,” said Carcella.


The scholarship was created in memory of heart transplant recipient Jessica Beth Schwartz. “These young organ transplant recipients have displayed incredible strength and determination throughout their entire lives. It is my pleasure to help give them the opportunity to pursue higher education,” said Jessica’s mother and scholarship co-founder, Janice Schwartz-Donahue.


To be eligible for The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, students must be an organ or tissue transplant recipient under the age of 25, seniors in high school, or be enrolled in a two or four-year college, university, trade or technical school.


Carcella’s health challenges began with an enlarged heart when she was just a few weeks old. She received a heart transplant at age 11 and has taken part in multiple research studies at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).


Her experience in her early childhood has sparked a passion for seeking understanding, and as college student, Carcella wants to begin an organ donation awareness club at the university to educate the community on the organ donation crisis and fundraise money for different transplant organizations, such as Gift of Life. After a visit to campus, she could see herself making a difference and spreading awareness at Alvernia. “It’s pretty close to home, so one day my family and I came down and walked around. The campus was so beautiful and the buildings were welcoming. I thought to myself; yeah, I could see myself here,” said Carcella.


Her experiences have provided her with a unique perspective and guided her approach to her educational journey and life. “What I learned from this experience is that you can never move on. Even when the unthinkable happens to you, you can’t just forget it’s happened. Instead, you just have to keep moving forward. Without going through what I did, I wouldn’t the person I am today.”