“It’s really easy to discount your own story of limb loss,” says Hunter Treschl. “You’ve lived it, so there’s this tendency to tone things down and make things sound a bit easier than they really were.”

Treschl is a big believer in the power of narrative. Since losing his left arm above the elbow in a shark attack in 2015, he has shared his story more times than he can count, in more venues than he can remember. A year after the incident, he appeared in a Discovery Channel documentary during the outlet’s annual Shark Week. Treschl also launched a YouTube channel called Project Reach, a community platform for individuals affected by limb difference (and their family and friends) to celebrate successes and share struggles through the power of storytelling.

So when he sat down to write an essay while applying for a college scholarship from the Limb Preservation Foundation, he’d already refined his appeal to a tee.

“Being honest about the difficulties but also the successes you’ve encountered is really important,” says Treschl, who attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. “That’s true not only for writing an essay, but also for life in general.”

Known as the Extremity Scholarship, the program is available to individuals from nine states in the Rocky Mountain region. It provides up to $2,500 per year, for an overall total of $10,000. Both undergraduate and graduate students can apply.

Treschl applied for and received a scholarship to support all four years of his undergraduate studies. He graduated last spring with a dual degree in economics and statistics. Now working in Chicago as a derivatives trader, Treschl says the program’s benefits went far beyond assistance with tuition bills. The Extremity Scholarship also helped him connect with other people experiencing limb difference, allowing him to better plan for his future as an amputee and realize his full potential.

“I’m very focused on connection,” Treschl says. “The whole point of going is to explore new things, meet new people, and make new connections. When you get a scholarship, it’s basically a way of somebody paying for you to discover yourself. So make good use of it.”

The Limb Preservation Foundation accepts applications for the Extremity Scholarship on a rolling basis. Students from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona are eligible to apply. For more information, visit the Limb Preservation Foundation online at limbpreservation.org.

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