January 8, 2014

Joana D. McKeoun Memorial Scholarship

“Life is too short to be anything but happy.” These words were not just spoken by Joana – she truly lived by them each and every day of her life.

Joana was born in 1992 in Bay City, Michigan. She moved to Saginaw in 2003 where she lived with her mother, stepfather and three younger siblings. Joana attended White Pine Middle School and Heritage High School.

In 2008, Joana was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly before her 16th birthday. Two surgeries, two rounds of radiation therapy and countless chemo treatments did not slow her down. Through it all, she continued to attend high school and later became a student at the University of Michigan, majoring in English. Besides school, she had many interests and was very involved in her community. She volunteered with Relay For Life as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she was a cross country and track runner, she danced on the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Team and she loved spending time with her family and friends.

As a result of her tumor and treatments, Joana had many difficulties to overcome – poor vision, memory and cognitive impairment just to name a few. However, Joana never gave up and pursued her dream of attending the University of Michigan even though it was not easy for her. She worked extra hard and enjoyed every single day she was able to spend in Ann Arbor. She was a very caring and giving person. She never complained about her situation – even when she relapsed twice during her college years.

On October 4, 2013, Joana lost her five-year battle with brain cancer nine days after her 21st birthday. Her bright smile and joyful personality will never be forgotten by those who knew her and her light will continue to shine. Joana’s mother established this scholarship in honor of and memory of her and to help local students get one step closer to achieving their dream of attending college – a dream Joana never abandoned and made a reality.


  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Graduating senior from Heritage High School
  • Pursuing an undergraduate degree
  • Full-time enrollment

Evaluation Criteria

  • Special essay (60)
  • Overall involvement in school, work and community activities (20)
  • Scholastic record (10)
  • Letter of recommendation (10)