Clinical lab science student Erica Benton receives national scholarship for ALS research

Erica Benton is working to make an impact. 

The Wellington woman is studying clinical laboratory science at Lorain County Community College. It’s a career path she chose with purpose. Her family has been affected by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for longer than she can remember. Her great grandfather, Cleve, passed away from the disease before she was born. Her father, Chip, was diagnosed in 2019. And her brother, JD, was diagnosed during the pandemic.  

While reading about ALS treatment options for her family members, Erica discovered there had not been many advancements for ALS treatment since before her grandfather passed away. 

“I decided then I could contribute,” she said. “Healthcare and research start in the laboratory setting, and if I’m going to ask ‘why,’ then I need to assist in finding the answer,” she said. 

By earning a degree in clinical laboratory science, Erica hopes to help progress the field of research and diagnosis for ALS.  

To help her reach her goal, Erica recently was awarded an Iron Horse Scholarship from the LiveLikeLou Foundation. She is one of just four students in the country to receive the scholarship.  

“I am so honored to receive the scholarship,” she said. “It means a lot to me and to my family.” 

When Erica earns her degree next year, she will become the latest in her family to earn a credential from LCCC. Her mother, Carrie, earned a phlebotomy degree from LCCC, and her brother graduated in 2021 with an associate of arts degree. 

Erica is on track to graduate in 2023, and she’s already getting work experience in the field though a position at University Hospitals in Elyria. It’s all building up to a future where she hopes to make an impact for those diagnosed with ALS. 

“I am looking forward to a career that could help my family and others dealing with this terrible disease,” she said.