By Alan Brads
Molly Goodman, a freshman at Cedarville University, refuses to be defined as “the sick girl” but rather as an overcomer of adversity.
During her freshman year of high school, Goodman started exhibiting symptoms of ulcerative colitis, a debilitating and incurable bowel disease.
“Some of the symptoms of my illness through high school were extreme tiredness and weakness, and that’s added on top of the side effects from medication,” Goodman said.
She missed significant chunks of high school classes but never let her GPA dip. She even started taking college classes as a sophomore, showing her dedication to academic excellence in the face of adversity.
In June 2021 Goodman won an adversity scholarship, established by Cincinnati Bengals’ Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz. He awarded Goodman a $20,000 scholarship for overcoming adversity and excelling in academics.
“I submitted the scholarship application in January, but they weren’t due until the end of March,” Goodman said. “So I had forgotten about it completely.”
She remembered her application in April when she was selected as a finalist, and Muñoz conducted a virtual interview with her, alongside three panelists.
A week later, Muñoz requested another interview, and asked, “Who would be the first person you would call if you won this scholarship?”
Goodman said she would call her parents to which Muñoz simply replied, “You might want to get them on the phone.”
“I was so happy I started crying,” Goodman said. “It was just such a cool experience. Watching God provide in that way, through an organization that does so much work in this regional community, was so helpful.”
Muñoz hosted a gala for all 20 recipients of the Muñoz Foundation scholarship in June 2021.
“He’s as large as he looks in pictures,” Goodman said with a laugh. “But he and his wife are very kind people.”
The Muñoz Foundation offers many scholarships for college students in the tri-state area, but none carry a price tag as large as this one.
Goodman solidified her plan to attend Cedarville last winter, between the time she applied for the Muñoz scholarship, and the time she was named as a recipient.
The scholarship covers a maximum of $2,500 per semester and is valid until all $20,000 have been used. The only stipulation states that recipients must attend a college in southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, or northern Kentucky. Goodman plans to graduate a year early with a degree in allied health, then pursue a master’s degree as a physician assistant.
Goodman aspires to give back to the medical community as a physician assistant because she has received so much help from the world of medicine.
Goodman grew up in Erlanger, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and only 13 minutes from the site where Riverfront Stadium once stood and where Muñoz played his home games for the Bengals. More importantly for Goodman, she lived across the river from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which still provides her medical treatment.
“Ulcerative colitis is still something that affects my daily life,” Goodman said. “I go to the hospital every four weeks for 5-6 hours to get a REMICADE infusion.”
The monthly infusions are designed to ease daily symptoms and prevent breakouts of intense symptoms known as flares.
Though the medication is usually effective, Goodman still experiences occasional flares that are currently incurable and untreatable. But she remains in good spirits and maintains a positive outlook on her own life rather than making herself a victim.
“Thankfully, I am doing a lot better than I was in high school,” she said. “I have good friends who are supportive and a good hospital nearby.”
Alan Brads is a freshman journalism student and co-sports editor at Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums and speaking Spanish, and watches Buckeye football like his life depends on it.