2020 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Prince Edward Island
Program: Sustainable Design Engineering
On January 6th, 2011, when I was 8, my mom died very suddenly at home from a brain aneurysm. It was a shock. My father, brother and I have not recovered more than nine years later. My brother Trent, who is now 20, has severe autism and requires constant supervision.
My mom had a life insurance policy through her employer, but no additional insurance. If there had been a private life insurance policy in effect as well, it would have greatly helped our family financially.
My dad retired from his job of 31 years a year and a half ago, but the expenses of maintaining our household, specifically one associated with a young adult with autism, necessitated his return to work on a part-time basis over a year ago. My dad is 62 years old and is physically and emotionally exhausted from single parenting for the last nine years. He would prefer to remain completely retired to give himself more time to deal with issues at home.
I have been a tremendous asset to my dad in helping out at home with Trent. My best friend since preschool also has autism, so I have definitely learned my way around the spectrum over my life. For a number of years, I have been volunteering for Special Olympics and for a local organization that teaches children how to skate. I spend one hour a week with each organization, on top of being President of my school’s Student Council. I have worked full time the last two summers, and I am currently working part-time at a local convenience store in order to help out my dad with household expenses.
I am currently in grade 12 and have just been accepted into the Sustainable Design Engineering Program at the University of Prince Edward Island. I know that my mom would love nothing more than to see me have the opportunity to get a good education.
This essay was written on Friday, March 27th. I had planned on submitting it the next day. Unfortunately, the next day (March 28th), I found my father had died in his sleep at the age of 62. Emotionally, it has already been a train ride. I realize at this point that things are not going to get better quickly. At this time, I have a lot to deal with emotionally. I feel I cannot speak to the financial struggles that this second death will carry - as I have not experienced them yet - but the future of my finances scares me.
I do not know much about what the future will hold, but it will be an uphill battle. One thing I do know is this: both of my parents would want me to get a good education, and they would be extremely proud to see me graduate. I do not plan on failing them.