Chelsea Now has a new home! is now your destination for community news from all across Manhattan.

Thanks for supporting local journalism. Stay tuned for our full relaunch coming soon!

Student’s art blooms despite chronic condition

The following essay was submitted by Mary Grace Bernard, a graduate student at New York University’s Institute of French Studies, as part of her application to the AbbVie CF Scholarship program.

AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, created the program 24 years ago to provide financial assistance to inspirational students pursuing higher education who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. 

Mary Grace was named AbbVie’s 2015 Thriving Graduate Student, winning a total of $23,000 in educational funding for her perseverance and positive mentality. For more information about the scholarship, visit



Mary Grace Bernard.

By Mary Grace Bernard  

I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 5 years old. Ever since that time, I have dedicated my life to staying healthy and keeping a strong, positive mentality.

My daily routine — completing my breathing treatments three times a day, taking more than 40 pills a day, and taking enzymes every time I eat — is the most important aspect of my life.

Staying healthy in order to achieve my life’s goals — traveling the world and creating art — requires a lot of time and responsibility. However, it is worth the effort. In fact, in order to share with the world the importance of my daily routine, I began a campaign called “The Sixty-Five Roses Challenge.”

One of Bernard's artworks from her "Sixty-Five Roses Challenge."

One of Bernard’s artworks from her “sixty-five roses challenge.”

Each day, from Feb. 1 to April 6, 2015, I created an art piece, which usually took me about six hours to complete. That same day, I attempted to sell the artwork for $65 in order to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis and money for a cure. I was able to raise a little more than $1,500, solely through the challenge.

My “sixty-five roses” collection is a graphic, artistic representation of how I live my life with cystic fibrosis. The repeated “sixty-five roses” phrase imitates my daily breathing treatment and medication routine. The designs created by the phrase signify my ever-reaching desire for perfection. However, when viewed closely, each piece reveals multiple flaws, and thus human imperfection and the imperfect human body.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *