George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I’m sure that is true for almost all healthy children. But for those of us who have faced death at six years old there is no time to waste.
My cancer formed above my kidney and grew quickly; it gave no quarter for my young age. While others were learning to read or ride a bike, I underwent rigorous cycles of chemotherapy treatment and waves of radiation. That year I was perhaps too young to understand death but I did understand loneliness and pain. Unlike my tall, strong brother, I am short and fragile. But I am alive.
In 2012, less than ten years after I survived Neuroblastoma, I was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. This time it was thyroid cancer. The idea of facing death a second time was a bit scarier because I was old enough to fully grasp the magnitude of my battle for survival. Although there are many victims of cancer, most of them are mature adults who have set their course in life. Facing this disease at such an early age is my greatest asset, for I have learned every day is a precious gift with no guarantees of another.
After my experiences with cancer, I started my own gaming company, PSN Circuit. PSN Circuit is one of the main sources of competitive video gaming events on the entire Playstation platform. My team hosts events for competitive gamers who wish to gain recognition for their gaming intuition and win cash prizes. Developed from the ground up and taking up enormous amounts of my time, this brand has become a gold mine for gaming innovation. Whether it be the latest trend, a new game, a cutting edge tournament algorithm, or novel player communication platforms, we aggressively invite creative gaming solutions and applications.
More recently, in order to give back to my local community that supported me through my health issues, I have offered my services to local institutions as a freelance business development manager. With the goal of fixing family businesses in the contemporary economy, I started my association with East Brookfield Pizza, a small-town pizzeria that was struggling due to their old-fashioned branding, ineffective marketing and poor food quality. After I developed a comprehensive marketing plan, they are en route to profitability. They have new branding, social media, contemporary promotional materials and an avant garde storefront seemingly divorced from the cliche idea of a small town pizzeria. Without my help, statistical analysis suggests that EBP would have gone out of business within the next few years. Now hiring more employees than ever before in their history and producing substantial capital to be used for expansion, EBP is making considerable strides towards providing stable jobs in the Brookfield area.
In my most recent ventures, I’ve reached out to more local businesses that need exhaustive development plans. I’ve taken a position with Parrot Pizza in Holden, MA in order to evaluate their marketing strategies and execute detailed new strategies to expand their prominence in the Worcester County community.
I do not know what my future holds but I am confident that I will enjoy and appreciate every minute of it. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, I wish “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This scholarship is an opportunity to alleviate college debt and help kickstart my adulthood without hefty loans holding me back from taking risks, and therefore, succeeding. There will undoubtedly be smarter applicants with better grades and test scores than me, but I doubt there will be any who will have a greater enthusiasm or appreciation for a college education, or, more importantly, a greater empathy for the less fortunate, or a stronger desire to make a difference.
Peter Bilzerian is the founder of PSN Circuit and will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology this fall.
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