Kiana W.


2020 Scholarship Recipient


Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: McMaster University
Program: Kinesiology

My name is Kiana W. I’m currently attending McMaster University as a second-year Kinesiology student. I found myself applying for this scholarship because of my mother. I lost her in 2013 after her endless fight with stage 4 breast cancer that eventually spread across her body until her final breath.

My parents were not financially stable, and after their divorce in 2004, money became a huge issue. This led to inadequate care for my younger sister and I moving forward. I still hold vivid memories of my 12-year-old self, attending hospital appointments weekly, making dinner for the little one, and trying to remind my mother who her daughters were in the Bruyere Hospice. These difficulties lead me to grow up a little faster, and that is a quality that I am forever grateful for. Living through such traumatic experiences at such a young age, I had the belief that she was on a work trip and was going to come home and see us soon... but I eventually had to face the truth. Though I was young and sad, I still had huge dreams for myself.

Sadly, my mother did not have access to life insurance. She could not afford it in our familial budget. Growing up, I had no idea that this type of insurance existed. My mom implanted the idea that it was not important to cover up the fact that she could not afford it. Focused on putting food on the table and a roof above our heads, my mom did what she could until she received her diagnosis which left the whole family speechless.

The fact is cancer is a tragic disease that affects millions of people. If we had proper coverage, it would have removed another stressor during a difficult time. My dad had no job to provide financial help. We relied heavily on our grandparents who were immigrants from Vietnam. They had very little, but they gave us their love and warmth even though they were about to lose their only daughter.

I started working any jobs I could find to make some money. My mother’s younger brother worked incredibly hard to save as much as he could, and people donated money at my mother’s funeral towards me and my sister’s university fund, which did not yet exist. If my mom had life insurance coverage, it would have removed the financial stress which determined if attending post-secondary school was even an option. I work full-time summers to ensure I will be stable enough during each following school year along with heavy OSAP loans. Before her death, I was already passionate about school, but following it, I had a renewed drive to succeed. Good grades and heavy determination lead me to the Honours Kinesiology program at the second best university in Canada. I hope to graduate with this degree and to end up in a medical/health profession where I can help others who are in need, especially those who witnessed a trauma like me.

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