Alston Handy

Alston Handy

I have faced devastating hardships in the past year. As I helped to care for my mother during the last few months of her life, my father left our family with no income to provide for our family. Last July, my mother went into hospice and passed away after becoming increasingly ill over the last several years, leaving me and my twin brother alone in a crumbling house. Not only were we devastated by her loss, but also distraught as she had no life insurance, leaving us destitute.

Thankfully, our older brother took us into his nearby trailer home while we complete our senior year in high school. My twin brother and have worked hard at our jobs at Walmart to make ends meet. Our aunt has also helped to provide essentials and encouragement to reach high for our goals.

The timing of the events in the past year has been challenging, as me and my twin brother both want to go to college. Despite the obstacles I faced with my mother’s passing, and the school system enforcing at-home learning due to Covid during my junior year of high school during the time she was very ill, I’ve maintained an A average in school by studying hard.

Before this tragedy, I had no concept of the value of life insurance. My mother didn’t expect to lose her life to a disease and could not imagine how it would tear our lives apart. I’ve been told that if my mother would have taken out a life insurance policy, my brother and I would be able to use the money to help pay for college. Without that, we are working as hard as possible at our jobs and applying for financial aid, however that will not cover all the costs of attending college. Our lives would have turned out differently if she would have had life insurance, as we would have been able to afford food, clothing, shelter, and support for college rather than not having essential needs and worrying about how we will pay for college.

My challenges were a great teacher, and the lessons I learned will be with me forever. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined, and at the end of the day the most important thing in life is the laughter and love we share with one another. I learned that as deep as my heart can feel pain and loss, it can also feel pure joy and gratitude. I learned that in silent moments, I can be alone with myself and feel at peace. Being active outside has also helped me to heal.

I am excited to become a college student and achieve my goals of graduating with a degree in biology so that I can help others be healthier.

I hope you agree that the growth from my experience would help me to make a genuine contribution at a university. Thank you for your consideration of a scholarship award.

Cassie Carter

Cassie Carter

My name is Cassie Carter and I’m from a small town in Texas named Argyle. The past 18 years of my life have been less than conventional. After my parents divorce my mom started finding enjoyment in other men, which quickly would become her downfall. After remarrying 5 times in her 48 years, carrying me on her shoulders, my mom woke up on a warm Tuesday morning in August just 6 days before my first day of senior year and decided to take her life. She had also been dealt the hand of a hard life. During her 3rd marriage, she silently battled a violent relationship linked to the addiction of alcohol and drugs. Making the reality of domestic violence that more real, her husband would eventually beat my mom up to the point of no recognition and shoot her twice in the back proceeding to then kill himself afterwards. She always questioned if God saving her that day was a good thing, because the hard part was to follow; depression and PTSD. As a 12 year old hiding in the shadows while this was happening, it was something that will forever have an effect on my life, and further remove what childhood I had left. Additionally everything that made my mom herself was gone, coated with trauma and pain.
The past 6 months have given me time to reflect on what my mom was thinking that day and I have come to the consensus she simply wanted the pain to stop. Days after my mothers passing, I learned that no life insurance was left and the funeral costs were expected to be paid out of pocket. Also summing up the reality that any funds for the future put in place were not existent. My mother had made no arrangements, including not writing a will. If my mom had life insurance not only would it take the pressure off paying for tuition but even the smaller things like groceries and gas. Now it’s up to my single dad to pay for the next 4 years of college, which is impossible without scholarships. I recently put my 2 weeks notice in as a host at a restaurant, because my dad started working more hours allowing me to focus on my grades. My goal for a long time has been to be a nurse. I was born with an ear deformity and partial deafness making the hospital a familiar place. Recently, I have this new found passion to pursue a nursing career that particularly has to do with mental health. My mother always pushed me to attend college because she had not. I have worked hard to apply and have received acceptances to 3 colleges. This is the Lord’s way of saying that life does not end when everything else feels like it does. However, what this life has taught me is to not put things off, even with the risk of failure, I’d rather fail than have not tried at all.
Ben Breece

Ben Breece

I never thought I would lose my father so early. Just two years ago, my dad made a doctor’s appointment for a few minor symptoms only to learn that he had Stage 4 cancer. My sister had just graduataed from college that month and my brother, at that time, still had 2 more years. To say we were devasted at the loss of our dad is an understatement. My father was a man of integrity, kindness, and generosity. He brought a lot of joy to our home.
My father did not take life for granted. Having been diagnosed with malignant melonoma at the age of 26, my dad didn’t think he would live to even have children. He was given a less than 15% chance of surviving. God miraculously gave my dad a second chance and he lived cancer-free for 18 years, until my 16th birthday.
We got the diagnosis of terminal cancer on my 16th birthday, December 26th, 2018. My dad passed away just a few months later. Due to the fact that my dad had previously had cancer at such a young age, he was never able to purchase the amount of life insurance that he felt like his family needed. While he did have a policy that he had purchased at the age of 24, my dad always worried about the “unthinkable” since he now had a wife and 5 children. He taught us the importance of buying life insurance at a young age to “insure your insurability”. Not only did we lose our amazing dad, we also lost his income.
My mom has worked for many years as a teacher at a small school. Her income had previously always been used for tuition needs. Now, her income is critical. Had my dad been able to purchase more life insurance, the concern of paying tuition for myself and my brothers would have been greatly reduced. My twin brother and I will both graduate from high school in May and hope to attend college in the fall. In just 2 years my younger brother will be wanting to attend college as well. I know that the thought of 3 in college at the same time seems overwhelming to my mom. I would love to help relieve just a little of her worry with the help of scholarship money. My twin brother and I have been able to work at a factory with flexible hours part time to help with our expenses and are planning on working many more hours this summer when school is out. We are also hoping to find an on-campus job to help with expenses.
Thank you for providing an opportunity for students grieving the loss of a parent (and losing the income of that parent) a chance to reduce their college expenses. If selected a winner, I hope to have a career in the business world that will allow me to help others in my same situation to attend college.
Natalee Reis

Natalee Reis

When I was three, I lost my father to suicide. As I lay sleeping one July morning, I heard a “boom”, opened the bedroom door, and there he was, my father. A gunshot wound to the head. The images are forever embedded in my mind. My mother quickly shut the door and started screaming. I could have never imagined what would be in store for me because of his death. The sequence of events would soon unfold. Many hardships, heartache, but finally acceptance and understanding.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom at the time of my father’s death. The lack of adequate life insurance was felt enormously. Any money my mother had from life insurance was fast depleted on our basic needs. If my parents would have only planned better for the moments that are so uncomfortable to imagine. Death. We soon lost everything, including our home.
Not only was our family was suffering so many financial challenges from not having enough life insurance, my mother, my only parent left, began deteriorating at a rapid pace, mentally, before my very eyes. I was a helpless little girl. I was confused. I was sad.
My brother and I were soon shuffled around from family member to family member. My mother’s absence was greatly felt. She was suffering from PTSD. The flashbacks of my father were intense for me, I could not imagine what my mother saw that morning. She was in and out of therapy for the next 12 years. I remember many times doing normal things with my mom and then waking up the next morning only to find her on the floor of the hallway crying and screaming. Her nightmares became my nightmares. Her problems became my problems. Its really like I lost both of my parents when my father committed suicide. I started working when I was fifteen to help my family.
Today I am happy to say that all those open wounds are now closed. I will get my degree and I will be able to provide for myself. I am driven to educate myself with every humble experience life has shown me. My life may have turned out differently if my parents had more life insurance. I won’t have those regrets.
I have overcome many obstacles in my life. I am grateful my nightmares of that July morning are over. I understand the importance of planning life and preparing for the unthinkable. One day I will make sure I leave my children enough life insurance so they can survive without facing the hardships I now face pursuing my bachelor’s degree.
I know education is the key to unlocking my future. That’s why I am writing this today, sharing my story. I am currently a freshman at ETSU. I am a nursing major. If I am awarded this scholarship, I would be forever grateful as it would help relieve the financial pressures I face while pursuing my goal. Thank you for taking time to consider my application.
Christopher Bieniek

Christopher Bieniek

Hi I’m Christopher Bieniek, I was born August 14, 2004, to the WORLD’S BEST MOM, who at the time was 19. I’m sure it was far from easy for my mom to raise a child at her age. But from the memories and pictures that I have she took really good care of me and we enjoyed our short time together. Unfortunately, May of 2008 my mom was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and our world was turned upside down.
From May of 2008 to January of 2015 has been the most difficult time of my life. Not only difficult because breast cancer took my mom’s life at such an early age but also because I lost my father in 2010. After my father passed away we had to move with my grandmother because my mom couldn’t afford the house we rented. I’m sure if my father had life insurance things would have been a lot easier for my mom and I, while she lived the last few years of her life with me. Life insurance would have allowed my mom and I to own a place of our own and not burden my grandmother. My mom could have purchased a new car to safely transport her to the endless doctor’s appointments and all my events. Ultimately life insurance would have lessened the worries and made life a lot easier for both of us. It was very hard on me to watch my mom battle a terminal illness and struggle financially. Naturally all this hardship started to affect me emotionally and academically. My mom would tell me “Make me proud Chris, do well in school so you could go to college and make a difference”. At the time I didn’t even think college would be an option for me or how I would even pay for college.
Now I’m 17 years old and a senior in high school about to graduate on May 27, 2022. I know my dream is to attend either Benedictine University or University of Dayton but both of these schools are very expensive. Unfortunately, neither of my parents had life insurance policies so funding my college education has become the latest obstacle. If both of my parents had life insurance funding my college education wouldn’t be a problem and I could concentrate more on my studies. To make extra money, I usually cut grass and do snow removal in my neighborhood. But the few dollars earned is usually just enough for my grandmother and I to get around in her car. I hope the Life Lessons Scholarship could help me attend college which will allow me to study business. I plan to be a successful businessman that will help those in need. I want to help guide the young generation and tell them how important life insurance is. If we could insure our vehicles, motorcycles and places of residents, let’s insure our most valuable asset, our LIFE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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