Colburn Agency Recipient

Chloe Doody-Catalano

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: Illinois Wesleyan University

When most seventeen-year-olds hear the phrase “planning for the future” they immediately think of prom, graduation, and choosing a college. Because of my dad’s unexpected death, I know planning for the future has a much broader meaning. I understand the importance of financial planning and life insurance.

My dad’s death had a significant impact on my life. My parents hasn’t had much time to plan for their future or ours. They had a lot of debt, little savings, and a small life insurance policy. Our lives changed overnight when my dad has a fatal heart attack. My mom became a single mom to four-year-old twins. The loss of his income led to additional losses. We lost our home. We had to give up our dog. Extracurricular activities stopped. Everything changed.

Things only became harder three years ago when my mom was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. At thirteen, I was faced with the possibility of losing my only living parent. It was scary but thankfully she is in remission. Treatments and surgeries left her weak and in need of assistance. This was my opportunity to give back to my mom for all had done for us. In between school and practice, I spent my time at home looking after my mom, helping with housework, and preparing meals. Taking care of her made me realize how hard it must have been for her after my dad died given our financial situation.

I have played the “what if” game many times in my head. What if my dad hasn’t died? Or what if my dad had lived longer? What if my parents had a chance to plan ahead so there was more money available from life insurance? If any of these things occurred, then maybe things would be different. Maybe I would remember my dad and now just stories I’ve heard about him. Maybe we wouldn’t have had to move. Maybe we could have kept our dog. Maybe my mom wouldn’t have always been so stressed out about money. Maybe I would know how I was going to afford college. Maybe I wouldn’t have to spend my weekends babysitting to save money for school instead of spending them with my friends. Maybe I wouldn’t need to worry about not being able to accomplish my dream of becoming a nurse.

My father’s death and my mother’s subsequent illness showed me that I possess a unique ability to empathize with others and inspired me to pursue a nursing career. I know the toll an illness can take on a family. I can appreciate the joy the comes with recovery. I understand the devastation that accompanies grief and loss. And most importantly, I know that because life happens, it is crucial to always be prepared.

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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