August 31, 2015

Life Happens Announces Winners of 2015 Life Lessons Scholarship Program, Awards $230,000 to 29 Deserving Students

Annual Program Provides Financial Support to Current and Aspiring College Students Who Have Lost a Parent, Underscoring Need for Families to Include Life Insurance in Financial Plans

Arlington, Va. — Forrest Wold-McGimsey was 10 years old when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Just a few years later, she passed away and Forrest’s life as he knew it changed forever. Not only was his family dealing with the devastating emotional burden of her death, but also the financial hardship of her funeral expenses. As Forrest’s mother did not have life insurance to help cover these costs, his family was forced to sell their home, and he and his brothers had to start working to keep their family afloat. Today, Forrest works full time at a local greenhouse so he can pursue his dream of going to college and getting a horticulture degree.

Through its annual Life Lessons Scholarship Program, the nonprofit organization Life Happens is dedicated to recognizing the perseverance of students like Forrest and providing them financial assistance to help pay for their college education. Today, Life Happens awarded a record total of $230,000 in scholarships through the program to 29 deserving students, ranging from $5,000 – $15,000. Forrest is the recipient of an $8,000 Life Lessons Scholarship. His story can be viewed here.

“The stories shared with us through our Life Lessons Scholarship Program serve as a valuable reminder of the importance of life insurance in providing our loved ones with financial protection for the future,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of Life Happens. “We are honored to be able to provide these inspiring young individuals with the financial assistance to fulfill their college dreams.”

To be considered for the Life Lessons Scholarship Program, applicants are asked to submit an application along with either a three-minute video or 500-word written essay describing the emotional and financial hurdles they have had to overcome after losing a parent who did not have adequate life insurance coverage.

Life Happens also granted an additional $5,000 to two scholarship recipients – Miranda Rivera and Tara Aboumahboub – based on the results of a social media engagement program that encouraged the public to view their stories on Life Happens’ Facebook page. The stories of some of this year’s recipients can be viewed at:

The full list of 2015 Life Lessons Scholarship Recipients includes:

  • $15,000 Scholarship Recipients: Tara Aboumahboub (Gainesville, Fla., University of Florida); Kira Olsen (St. George, Utah, Weber State University); Miranda Rivera (Tyler, Texas, University of Texas at Arlington)
  • $12,500 Scholarship Recipients: Emily Dompke (Washington, Wis., Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design); Topher Otake (Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri – Columbia)
  • $10,000 Scholarship Recipients: Mitchell Bartram (Mine Hill, N.J., New Jersey Institute of Technology); Cameron Hillebrand (Houston, University of Houston)
  • $8,000 Scholarship Recipients: Monet Atencio (Fort Collins, Colo., Colorado State University); Zanis Bob-Grey (Lawnside, N.J., Villanova University); Ryanne Hawkins (Honolulu, University of Hawaii at Manoa); Laura Howard (Luttrell, Tenn., Pellissippi State Community College); Scott Koch (Arlington, Texas, Tarrant County College District – Trinity River Campus); Ian Muller (Greer, S.C., Middle Tennessee State University); Palek Patel (Fort Pierce, Fla., Universiy of Florida); Forrest Wold-McGimsey (Longmont, Colo., Front Range Community College – Larimer Campus); Makena Young (West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue University); Jonathon Zalecki (Sterling Heights, Mich., Michigan State University)
  • $5,000 Scholarship Recipients: Sydney Bartlett (Roseville, Calif., University of California, Davis); Brighton Bohenkamp (Beaverton, Ore., Western Oregon University); Lendina Dumercy (Miami); Hannah Klopf (Gainesville, Fla, University of Florida); Jennifer Krol (Neponsit, N.Y., Adelphi University); Martin Kussler (Roseville, Calif., California State Polytechnic University, Pomona); Suzanne Persaud (East Orange, N.J., Rutgers University – Newark); Brooke Sewell (Littleton, Colo., Colorado State University); Taylor Stansbury (Plainwell, Mich., Kalamazoo Valley Community College); Jordan Staples (Zeeland, Mich., Western Michigan University); Megan Unkraut (Walton, Ky., University of Louisville); Nicole Webb (Dallas, Texas Christian University)

For the fifth consecutive year, Life Happens has awarded more than $100,000 in Life Lessons scholarships, which was made possible by the generous financial support of the MDRT Foundation, the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, State Farm, Swiss Re, Pacific Life Foundation, Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association (LIDMA) and Partners Financial. Life also accepts contributions from individual donors. To make a tax-deductible donation, visit

Life Happens will accept submissions for the 2016 Life Lessons Scholarship Program starting February 1, 2016 through March 1, 2016. For more information about the program, including submission guidelines, rules, and a listing of past wines, visit

About Life Happens
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit

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