Olivier K.


2019 Scholarship Recipient


Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Ottawa

I would like to start by thanking Manulife for this opportunity.

Losing a parent elicits an indescribable pain and immense challenges and regardless as to whether or not I receive this scholarship, I am grateful for the fact that Manulife provides help to students such as myself through this challenge.

To begin, I was born in Rwanda and as many are aware, the country suffered a devastating genocide in 1994 where over 800,000 lives were lost, including that of my father and sister. My mother carried me on her back to flee the country, so it goes without saying that she has been my protector since birth and was the most courageous women in my life. After years of hardship, we immigrated to Canada in 2006. She was a social worker prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer two days before Christmas 2012. She was cancer-free in 2014 and chose to attend University at the age of 54 to earn a degree in Social Sciences with distinction (Dean’s Honour List). Shortly after, in 2017, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and had six months to live. Being the fighter she was, she lived for two additional years before passing on March 7th, 2019.

She obtained life insurance after her diagnosis therefore minimal coverage was granted. The funds paid for a small portion of the funeral costs which the remainder was covered by my personal savings and the assistance of family. Adequate life insurance would have allowed me to pay for school and worry less about covering expenses such as food and housing.

My mother’s passing has been a strikingly difficult time for me and remains difficult to express. Although I knew her time would come, one is never emotionally prepared for life without parents. She was my biggest supporter and my greatest teacher, showing me the power of education and discipline. I witnessed her come to Canada and restart life from nothing with no help. She radiated strength and resilience to everyone she met. Her life was a testimony to me that I will not give up on my dreams regardless of the obstacles.

With this loss, I have had to face a multitude of rapid changes. I was obliged to become independent and pay the house, her vehicle, insurances, food and more. Regardless of the financial burden, I would like to continue attending school although cannot on a full-time basis and must attend night classes instead since I must work full- time as a bookkeeper during the week and as an HVAC technician on weekends to provide. I am ineligible for loans which has made paying for tuition arduous. This scholarship would relieve an enormous amount of financial stress and I would use the funds to pay for tuition permitting me to continue my studies without sacrifice. My mother’s dream was to see me graduate and as much as I am doing this for myself, she is my motivator and I will attain that degree for her.

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