Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: Queen’s University
I am applying for the Manulife Life Lessons Scholarship to help finance my third year at Queen’s University in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) program. Following my post-secondary education, I hope to pursue a career in clinical psychology, with a focus on mental health research. This became my goal at the age of 15, following the loss of my father to suicide as a result of a long-fought battle with mental illness. This was by far the most tragic and life- changing event that my family and I have had to cope with. Not only did I lose my father, but I felt obligated to play a supportive role in my family dynamic. Unfortunately, my father did not have any life insurance, and had additional debts that made his death even more challenging for my family. My mother, now a single mother of two and a grandmother, was struggling to meet regular payments, funeral expenses, and my father’s debts, therefore leaving her unable to make ends meet. In order to support my family and afford university, I worked full-time while completing high school. Motivated to honour my father, I maintained an average above 90% in my senior years and took time to volunteer in my community. Throughout this I held true to my goal of honouring my father, growing stronger and gaining the independence required to pursue the education necessary.
My grieving process was made much more difficult as a result of my father’s lack of life insurance. This financial burden changed my family dynamic significantly. Since my mother was forced to work extensively in order to keep a roof over our heads, my brother and I had little parental guidance, support or role models. This led to my brother partaking in illegal activities, ultimately resulting in numerous arrests. The difficulty that came with once again losing a male role model caused me to try to play a supportive role, guiding my brother to make improved decisions. Although I worked hard to play this role, it was not enough, and my brother continues to face legal consequences as a result of the difficult position that my family was placed in following my father’s death. Had my father’s death not caused such financial strain, I feel that my mother could have supported my brother, allowing me to focus on saving for my future. Although this financial burden has set me back, I have been determined to help those like my father and used the resilience I have gained from these difficult times to pay for my education thus far. From loans, to scholarships, to working over 70 hours per week during the breaks between terms, I have been able to make ends meet. Each day, I wake up wanting to make sure that no one has to suffer like my father did, and that no daughter has to lose her father like I did. I hope with education and hard work this dream can become a reality.