2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: McGill University
My name is Andrew, and I am a third-year business student at McGill University. Losing my mother to cancer completely changed my trajectory in life.
My parents got divorced shortly after my little brother was born in 2013. My father immediately left the picture and my mother had to support our family by herself. She worked long hours at a small food kiosk to keep us fed and healthy – at the expense of her own health.
During my first week of classes at university, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer. With no one else in the family to care for her, I promptly withdrew from school to be by her side. Her cancer was too advanced to cure, and she passed away in the summer of 2018. I remember having difficult conversations with my mother about how I should continue with my life and raise my brother after she was gone. Having those difficult conversations forced me to start accepting the reality and I slowly processed my emotions and prepared for her death.
After her passing, I had no time to fully process my grief as I had to think of what would be best for my then 5-year-old brother and I. As I had no financial means to raise him by myself, I sent my brother to live with my grandparents in Korea with the promise that I would raise him upon graduation. I knew that I had to obtain my degree to raise and support my brother in the long term, so I returned to school with the help of generous financial loans and bursaries offered by the Government of Quebec.
As it suddenly became imperative for me to get a secure job right after graduating, I changed my degree from science to business. I could not afford to study 4 additional years and spend thousands of dollars pursuing my initial dream of becoming a doctor. I was determined to make the best of my situation, and I knew completing my studies was what I had to do for our collective future.
The government bursaries weren't enough to cover my living expenses, so I've held various part time jobs while studying full time.
I've learned to be able to balance a full-time course load with work; and by studying hard with grit and perseverance, I have been placed on the Dean's Honour List (Top 10%) for my academic excellence.
My mother had never considered getting life insurance because she couldn’t afford it with our budget, and she doubted we needed it given her young age (she was only 43 when she got diagnosed). If we had life insurance, I would have been able to consider living with my brother and worry less about how I will repay my student debt while raising my brother after graduation. I could've considered medical school too. Having life insurance would have made all the difference to my brother and I.