2023 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Alberta
Program: Bachelor of Science in Radiation Technology
2022 was a year of triumph, trauma, and heartbreak. In a span of 2 weeks, I lost my mother, planned her funeral, graduated high school, and gave a speech as valedictorian to my graduating class. I lost my mom to cancer on June 18th. Her death was unimaginable and something that I’m still trying to survive.
My mother had nasopharyngeal cancer, a rare type of cancer that was difficult to treat and spread to virtually every inch of her body. The first time she was admitted to the hospital 3 years ago, I remember taking my little brother to the hospital after school to bring a homecooked meal to eat together. Food was our love language.
My parents immigrated to Alberta from Vietnam to find more opportunities and have a better life. Before my mother was diagnosed with her critical illness, my parents worked low-paying jobs and 12-hour days due to their lack of post-secondary education and low levels of English. Growing up, I often felt like I was parenting my own parents, taking them to doctor appointments, calling banks, and taking care of my little brother. When my mother was critically ill, I worked two part-time jobs during high school to help my family. I was always a high achiever and could find time to partake in extracurriculars and achieve high grades while financially supporting my family.
When my mother died, I was left to pick up the pieces. My mother died so young. Before her diagnosis, opting into a cheaper policy seemed to be enough, as that was all we could afford. She had a small life insurance policy that resolved her funeral expenses and estate, but it didn’t provide enough money that could support an education for my brother and me.
My family’s financial status and the loss of my mother impacted my academic goals significantly. I dropped out of my first semester of university because I was overwhelmed with grief and needed to come back home to start working again. For the past 8 months, I have been working a full-time job to support my family and my academic future. I believe that with more life insurance, I would have more confidence in myself and my future. I wouldn’t have had to abandon my education and help my father pay the bills.
My mother wouldn’t have wanted my trauma to stop me from achieving my dreams. With my resilience, I will be attending the University of Alberta this fall to pursue a degree in Radiation Therapy. With this program, I hope to provide compassionate care to cancer patients and advocate for further access to mental health resources. Receiving this scholarship will allow me to realize my dream, reduce student loan debt and help me achieve a degree that can ease my family’s financial stress. I know wherever I am in life my mother will always be proud of me. With this achievement, I hope to honor her legacy and uphold the values she instilled in me.