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Warren resident receives scholarship, enrolls at University of Oxford


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 Kaitlyn Ryda, of Warren, was selected as a recipient of the Salix Gastrointestinal (GI) Health Scholars Award, which recognizes outstanding students living with GI disease as they pursue their higher education goals.

Kaitlyn Ryda, of Warren, was selected as a recipient of the Salix Gastrointestinal (GI) Health Scholars Award, which recognizes outstanding students living with GI disease as they pursue their higher education goals.

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WARREN — There were times in which Kaitlyn Ryda wasn’t able to get out of bed because of her gastrointestinal issues, but that didn’t stop the Warren resident from pursuing her educational goals.

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After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics, Ryda is on her way to attending the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.

The 25-year-old college-bound student was selected as a recipient of the Salix Gastrointestinal (GI) Health Scholars Award, which recognizes outstanding students living with GI disease as they pursue their higher education goals. Ryda was selected as one of 10 recipients from over 150 applicants. She will receive a $10,000 scholarship to attend the University of Oxford in the fall.

Bausch Health Companies Inc. and its gastroenterology business, Salix Pharmaceuticals, focus on the prevention and treatment of GI and liver diseases and disorders.

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“Salix is pleased to recognize these 10 outstanding Salix Gastrointestinal Health Scholarship awardees who are thriving in their academic journey while living with the challenges of a gastrointestinal condition,” Nicola Kayel — vice president, marketing, Salix — said in a prepared statement. “At Salix, we feel honored to play a small role in these students’ pursuit of higher education, and we look forward to seeing the result of their hard work in the near future.”

Applicants were required to submit essays describing how their GI condition has impacted their educational journey and to share the role their health care provider played in helping them reach their personal and educational goals. The scholarship applications were reviewed by an independent panel of judges.

Ryda plans to major in philosophy. Although dealing with GI issues, Ryda wanted to continue with her college education. She had applied to several schools and was “thrilled” when she received her acceptance letter to Oxford.

“I cried. I was so overwhelmed by it,” she said. “It has academic excellence, and all of the programs are fabulous. It was like a dream to study abroad. It was something I wanted to do since I was little.”

Ryda looks forward to immersing herself into a new environment in the U.K. Oxford is known as one of the world’s top research universities and world-class facilities for study and research.

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“I would like to research bilingualism from cognitive science,” Ryda said. “We know from research that being bilingual can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.”

Ryda would like to study the impact sign language has on delaying Alzheimer’s.

“Does someone who knows English and Portuguese, for example, have more or less of a delay in Alzheimer’s compared to someone who speaks English and knows sign language,” Ryda said.

Despite the GI issues she has endured, Ryda always thought about studying abroad.

“I’ve had all sorts of GI issues,” she said. “The sporadic health problems were always resolved.” But while in college, “they became chronic with conditions that didn’t go away.”

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There were times in college when Ryda could barely eat or even drink water because of stomach flare ups.

“I became a full-time patient,” she said. “I was always at the doctor’s trying this and that. It affects every facet of your life.”

Ryda kept researching her medical issues and said she “found a regime that worked for me.” That includes following a strict diet, avoiding dairy products and seeing different doctors and specialists. She is also on medication and takes daily supplements. Ryda also keeps a positive attitude, and her family has been “very supportive.”

“If you are having GI issues, you kind of put limits on yourself,” Ryda said. “You forget about the progress you’ve made.”

The Salix Gastrointestinal Health Scholars Program recognizes students across a wide range of educational pursuits, with scholarships in three categories, including the Undergraduate Scholar Awards, for those pursuing undergraduate degrees; the Graduate Scholar Awards, for those pursuing graduate degrees; and the Working Parent’s Scholar Award, for parents pursuing undergraduate, vocational/technical or graduate degrees.

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