Gracee F.


2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Western Ontario
Program: Kinesiology

My earliest memory was the cries that erupted down the hall from the bedroom I shared with my younger sister. It was my mother. That day a son, a brother, a husband, and to me, a father, was taken. Left behind, were my 5 siblings and I to be raised by a single, stay-at-home mother with no financial support from life insurance or even time to grieve. Immediately, my mother was forced to go back to college and find a job, while simultaneously looking after her 6 children. My whole family was devastated and we will forever mourn the early loss of my father, however asking “why us?” and denying the massive barriers we faced ahead was simply not an option. My mother raised us to be resilient, tough, and to be ambitious, but most of all to look out for each other. Thus, caring for my younger sister was a role I took on prematurely while my mother worked long hours. From a young age, I understood that I was not as fortunate as other children. My jaded mother struggled to afford simple expenses such as extracurriculars, new clothes, and even childcare. Nonetheless, my unbreakable perseverance would not allow our financial situation to decide our fate. As soon as we were of age, each of my siblings and I worked outside of school to pay for personal expenses and contribute to the mortgage of our old house that was falling apart. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder how things may have been different if my father were still here and if he acquired life insurance before the tragedy. The lack of financial support and a father figure in my life meant I missed out on opportunities others take for granted and was forced to fight for everything I aspired to be. In light of these circumstances, overcoming various obstacles shaped the driven, hardworking, and strong woman I am today. In my pursuit to become a physiotherapist and help others, I excelled in high school to become a student at the Western University studying Kinesiology. I independently pay for my tuition, residence, and living costs through the funds I earned from student employment. Regardless, as prideful as I am, I need financial help. The demanding nature of my program and the merit required for a future master’s degree requires me to balance expenses and a 3.9 GPA. I am terrified.

Terrified of juggling school with a part-time job. Terrified of not being able to take care of my distressed family. But most of all, terrified I cannot afford my aspirations without pushing myself into immense debt. Many may interpret life as unfair when loved ones are taken or financial situations are forever in a state of uncertainty. Instead, I perceive my misfortunes as masked blessings because, despite the numerous challenges I face, I am so grateful. Grateful for being close to my family, surrounding myself with supportive friends, and never giving up on my dreams.

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