Emma P.


2020 Scholarship Recipient


Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Toronto
Program: Law

When I was 12 years old, my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died two years later after months of radiation therapy and palliative care. At 14 years old and in my first year of high school, witnessing the illness and death of my father had a devastating impact on me and my family. Unbeknownst to my mom, my dad had accumulated immense credit card debt, of which my mom only learned in the month prior to his death. She learned that not only had he cancelled his life insurance in order to try to save money, but that he had also taken money out of my RESP to put towards paying off the debt.

In addition to dealing with the loss of my father, my mom was also left to pay off thousands of dollars of unexpected unpaid debt, which added to her anxiety and financial burden. The loss of money from my education savings plan exacerbated our stress, motivating me to contribute to financing my post-secondary education in any way I could. My mom and grandma were nothing but supportive, emotionally and financially, and I graduated high school with a 95% average and was able to attain an entrance scholarship to Queen’s University.

My dad had absolutely no life insurance coverage when he passed away, which contributed to the financial burden placed on my family. Had he kept his life insurance coverage, my mom would have had much less debt to pay after his death. However, since he did not have insurance, my mom has been forced to continue to work after retirement, picking up part-time employment to continue to finance my education. Had my father had adequate life insurance coverage, my mom would have been able to retire sooner and would not need to still be working in order to support our family and to pay for my education.

Over the course of my undergraduate degree, I have worked full-time hours every summer, in addition to working multiple part-time jobs throughout the school year. I currently work three part-time jobs, volunteer in my community, hold student leadership positions, and maintain a 4.0 GPA in a full course load of schoolwork. Although I sometimes feel overwhelmed by my number of commitments, the knowledge that I will be able to contribute to supporting myself and to financing my education keeps me incredibly motivated.

I have just been accepted to law school at the University of Toronto for the fall of 2020. Attending law school and pursuing a career in human rights law is my dream and is something that I know would make my father immensely proud. However, the financial cost of attending law school in Toronto is tremendous, and is currently causing a lot of anxiety for my mom and I. I am applying to the Manulife Life Lessons Scholarship Program in order to help cover my law school tuition and fulfil my dream of making myself, my mom, and my dad proud of me.

Other Recipients