Scholarship sponsored by Life Happens Board Member Mike Weintraub

Bryant Liang

AMOUNT: $10,000
SCHOOL: University of California, Los Angeles
“Where can we get a new mom?” my sister asked. My family laughed, but I knew we all felt the pain of her brutally innocent remark. My mother had passed away from brain cancer only a couple days before. My mother, my idol, my guiding figure in my life, was gone. Losing such an important figure in my life left me incredibly frustrated. I was angry at life, angry at myself for not cherishing my time with my mother, angry at the hospital for not being able to save her. I felt like I was inside a game show and that my mother would come out to surprise me at any second.

These feelings of anger eventually faded, but the lasting impact of my mother’s death was still to come. This ranged from chores and looking after my younger siblings to academics and finance. About to start high school, I was confused and overwhelmed with the transition. My father willingly assisted me in some of my struggles, but it was a struggle as his English was poor and he lacked knowledge of American systems. Without my mother’s guiding hand, I had to take initiative for my life by exploring educational opportunities and colleges, finding internships, self-studying for the SAT, and volunteering.

In addition, I began to search for financial opportunities where I could alleviate my father’s financial burden. My mother had life insurance which greatly helped my family remain financially stable for the time being. However, I knew more needed to be done. My family consisted of eight people, my two grandparents, my parents, and my three siblings. I knew sending four kids to college would be difficult for my father so I seeked work. During the school year, I focused on academics, volunteering, and extracurriculars, knowing the importance it had on college and my future. However, in the summers, when I had more time, I worked a variety of jobs throughout high school. I did not necessarily enjoy all the jobs I worked as, but I persisted, building up my savings account and workforce skills.

My mother was the only person in my family to attend college and I knew it would make her proud if I followed in her footsteps. I had used my absence of my mother to drive my high school academics and did not let this obstacle stop me from achieving what I knew I was capable of. I reached out to friends, coaches, and counselors for support in the confusing college applications process. I spent countless hours on my college applications and writing my personal insight questions, and, in the end, it paid off. I was accepted into my dream school, UCLA, where I am currently pursuing a degree in environmental science. I want to learn more about environmental problems such as littering and inadequate water management and create solutions through environmental engineering. Being in college now, I have the ability to work towards change and also provide for my family in the future, which I think is incredibly empowering.

Through this experience, I learned to be more independent and matured into a responsible, savvy adult. I hope my siblings and I will be able to complete college and pursue our passions like my mother and provide for our families like my father.

The Life Lessons Scholarship is made possible through individual donations and corporate sponsorships. Your financial support can make a world of difference for a young person struggling to afford a college education due to the loss of a parent or guardian.

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