2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Toronto
On the day I graduated high school, I found out my mother has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
My little brother and I were in total shock and denial, my mom who was my source of strength and resiliency, who would run every day, ate the right things was dying. It was incomprehensible. I got accepted to the University of Toronto to study Physics, becoming a physicist was always my dream but I wanted to take care of my mother. She absolutely refused to let me stay home and wanted me to follow my passion and get an education. After a long two-year battle, the cancer progressed taking over her whole body and brain and she passed away in my arms.
Towards the end I came to care for my mother while she was admitted to the Ottawa Civic hospital every day. The commute was almost two hours, I'd bring her homemade food, music, baby pictures of my brother and I, trying to get her to recognize me again. It was the most difficult period of my life, but the financial strain and debt her passing brought on has been equally as painful. Being new immigrants to Canada from Morocco, we didn't have much and my parents made many sacrifices so that we would have a chance at making a life for ourselves. All I've ever wanted is to make them proud by getting the education they never had and giving back to them.
Ever since my mom passed away it has been very difficult; she had no insurance and very expensive medication which my father is still making payments on. To not be able to afford a proper funeral for my mom is heartbreaking. If my mom had life insurance, we would've been able to grieve without the heavy financial burden. I would be able to study without the anxiety that comes with being financially unstable. She was our only source of income and worked very hard. I could have never predicted her falling ill, you truly never think that anything like this could happen to you. This really put things into perspective for me, the future is not guaranteed and so you should always be prepared for your sake and the sake of your family.
I know that I have the power to help my family. All my mom ever wanted was for me to pursue my dream of becoming a medical physicist so that I can help the countless number of Canadians affected breast cancer every year by better imaging techniques, targeted radiation therapy and preventative techniques to catch cancer before it’s too late. I don't want to let my family's financial situation get in the way of my pursuit for higher education. All I can do is continue to support my little brother and dad the best I can while working towards my dream, knowing how proud my mom would be if she could see me now.