Emily W.


2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Ottawa
Program: Biomedical Sciences

My father’s battle with cancer was the source of the scariest and most valuable moments of my life. In 2015, he was diagnosed with stage-4 colorectal cancer, his fight lasted two years, a period of time that altered my life forever. His battle was the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed, but it’s what ignited my passion to pursue a career in medicine, something I know he’d be overjoyed about.

When he passed, he was only 52. Having never imagined his life would be cut short, he did not have life insurance. If he had, the uncertainty surrounding my educational future could have been lessened. But unfortunately, when he applied during his brief remission, he was denied the coverage that could have changed our lives.

My father’s income drastically declined during his illness. My mom worked tirelessly to support us, but her salary was never intended to be our primary income. My father had hoped his three children would go to university, but when he passed, these costs became a major source of stress for my mother, along with household bills, the mortgage, and childcare. She managed these on her own, never revealing the struggles she faced to her young children.

At 16, I got a part-time job as a lifeguard and began saving for university, however, due to the pandemic, I was laid off. The helplessness I feel as my mom struggles to fund my education compares to only a fraction of the stress that has burdened her since my father’s initial diagnosis. Now, more than ever, I understand the dire financial strain that my father’s passing caused, something that would have been diminished with the safety net of life insurance.

At 12-years-old, I was taking care of my younger siblings and my father while my mom worked. My dad would joke that I was his nurse, I helped him as he became weaker, getting medications, food he could keep down, and offering all the support I could.

Although seeing him so sick was incredibly scary, I was infatuated with the medicine that surrounded me. During the many hospital visits throughout those years, I was scared as his child but fascinated as an inquisitive student.

Although my father having been taken from me was an overwhelming struggle, it inspired a passion I didn’t know I had. I remember the joy I felt as my dad rang the bell after his last round of chemotherapy, it was an indescribable sense of relief.

Although he relapsed soon after, that feeling of relief was a happiness I hope to one day share with other families.

I have excelled in my pre-requisite high-school classes to ensure I will be accepted into a great Medical Sciences undergraduate program. I aspire to practice medicine, to treat patients like my dad and to make an impact on the lives of their families. I have a tremendous passion to pursue my dream and to and honour his legacy, but I cannot without the financial means to get started.

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