Lee-An P.


2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: George Brown College
Program: Human Resources

The thing about financial setbacks is that no one tells you how long it can really set you back. I came to Canada with my dad when I was eight. It was an exciting and happy time-- a beautiful new country with new sights and friends, snow, and most of all, my mom. We were finally reunited with my mom who came to Canada when I was just a baby. Like most immigrants, we lived simply. Now that my dad was here, he added an extra income, and my parents used this to begin working on their savings and preparing for our future. My mom was planning on going back to school by the end of next year so that she can have the opportunity to start a new career. Our future never seemed brighter, but in less than a year, everything changed.

The thing about funerals is that no one tells you how expensive it can be. I was nine years old when my dad died. He didn't have insurance and we had no family here to turn to for support. My mom had no choice but to use all our savings to pay for the funeral expenses. She had to take on another job to afford our expenses, and I had to quickly learn how to take care of myself. I watched my mom exhaust her body working double shifts, and even with that, we struggled to make ends meet. I learned how to cook and clean so that she would have time to rest at home. Any future plans were crushed.

The thing about life is that it is unpredictable. Knowing our financial situation, I began working as soon as I was legally able to do. I worked various part-time and summer jobs during high school, and I saved as much I could for school. However, in my final year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. My priorities shifted and I focused on getting a full-time job so that my mom wouldn't worry about our finances. I had to make the hard decision of putting my education and future on pause.

We had no family in Canada and so we couldn't turn to anyone for support. If my dad had insurance, then my mom would have been able to afford the funeral expenses. Instead of needing a second job, she would have been able to go back to school part-time as planned. My mom would have kept saving for my education and any rainy day. We would have been able to move forward without pushing our needs away. To this day, my mom is the strongest person I know. She is my biggest inspiration and from her, I got my drive to persevere through any setback. Now, I am at George Brown College studying Human Resources. I am passionate about diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, and I want to build a work environment where new immigrants are informed of services around them.

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