Isabelle Z.


2023 Scholarship Recipient


Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: University of Windsor
Program: Criminology

February 16th, 2012. I woke up and went downstairs. I saw my mom teary-eyed, knowing the information she was about to tell me. She began to explain that my father had been killed in a house fire, which started from a cigarette that was not fully extinguished. “The neighbours called the fire department, but they couldn’t save him” were her exact words. My parents separated when I was three and my father moved to British Columbia. He lost the ability to work in Ontario because of a car accident where he was charged with driving under the influence, resulting in a criminal record and his driver’s license being revoked.

Before he died, I was an outgoing little girl, and had so much hope. That day changed my life forever. My father, although troubled, was a hilarious and loving man. I only got to see my dad about once every four years; knowing I would never hear his laugh again, took away a piece of my heart. He always knew how to make me laugh.

My mother raised me as a single mother from the time he left us. She worked two jobs to be able to provide for us, and my father owed my mother thousands of dollars in child support and bills from his accident. This put continued financial stress on my mom, and it only got harder as I grew older.

When my father died, he had no life insurance. The idea of me going to university was a dream, not a reality because we struggled to make ends meet each month. If he had life insurance, I know it would not have helped with the emotional distress, but it would have saved my mom and I from an immense amount of financial stress. It would have made saving up for school that much easier.

In high school, I worked a part-time job hoping to save enough to send myself to university. I would go to school, have field hockey practice, and immediately rush home to shower before work at 5 o’clock. I’d work until 10 and do it all again the next day.

When I got accepted into university, I did not have enough money saved up to attend. Second semester of grade 13, I worked both a full-time and part-time job, seven days a week. I did this for the entire semester and summer leading up to school as well.

When I got accepted into criminology, my childhood dream had come true. I want to become a police officer to make my community a safer place for everyone. Despite the people that told me I could not afford university; I persevered and did not take no for an answer. Although my family’s finances are limited, we’ve done our best with what we have. I am eternally grateful for everything my mom has done for me, and how far we’ve come. Thank you for considering me and helping support students in need.

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