Ojima E.


2021 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: McMaster University

In early 2013, my father suffered two strokes a month apart which left him paralyzed. The doctors discovered that he had leukocytosis, a disease in which his white blood cells were overproducing and attacking his spine. After his diagnosis, my family discovered that the doctors which assisted my father were no longer able to heal him, as he was sent home in a wheelchair.

September 24, 2013 was the day I felt innocence fade away. That night my three brothers and I cooked dinner with my dad as my mom worked late. When my mom finally came home, my dad was so relieved to see her which in retrospect I believe was because he knew he was going to leave us. That night he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. The next morning, my mother suggested that instead of going to school, we can go to church to pray for my dad. Shortly after we arrived at church, the pastor came to talk to me and my three brothers. With tears running down his face, we were told that my father was no longer with us.

My father was hard working and extremely educated. Being the firstborn of his family in Nigeria, he worked hard to put himself and all 10 of his younger siblings through school to ensure that they can have a better life. He came to Canada with very little to get a degree and a better job so that his family would not have to endure the hardships that he endured. After his passing, my family received disastrous news as my father had cancelled his life insurance plan. These events left me in a world of pain as I witnessed my mom collect every ounce of her strength to keep my family together when our lives were changing indefinitely.

My mother never knew my father cancelled his life insurance. I’d constantly walk in on her weeping asking God why did my father cancel his life insurance among other things as he left her with four kids and a pile of debt. If my father kept his life insurance, I wouldn’t have seen my mother in so much pain when it was time to pay the mortgage as it would have been paid off.

My mom is now responsible for financially supporting three university students while still saving for my younger brother's education, which is rapidly approaching. I’ve worked continuously since I was in grade nine to save as much money as possible for university while also trying to excel in my academics. As a first-year student with a full course load, it is getting harder to maintain a balance between my education and work.

My father had a way of motivating those around him to excel. He actively wanted me and my brothers to achieve more than he ever could. I choose to honour his memory by going above and beyond the aspirations he had for me in all aspects of life.

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