Jeff Zander Recipient

Jacob Mateo Valadez

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: University of Houston

My father worked for 45 years, usually more than one job. For 45 years, he paid to carry life insurance in case something would happen to him. He always said he wanted to be able to rest easy, knowing that my mother and my siblings and I were taken care of. He paid for employer sponsored life insurance for all of those years. My father’s health had declined so much in the last two years of his life, that he had to quit working and withdraw his retirement funds. Sadly, he lost any life insurance benefits when he quit. He applied for several life insurance plans in his last years, but was denied due to his failing health, diabetes, congestive heart disease, and his age. It was only late in his life, that he recognized the importance of carrying an independent insurance policy separate from employer sponsored. We were extremely lucky that my mother carried spousal life insurance through her employer and although it wasn’t much, we did not have to worry about the cost of the funeral. We were able to say goodbye to my father without having to ask for donations or hold fundraisers. This was a true blessing. He passed the summer before my senior year of high school. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I was forced to remain at home another year and take classes at the local junior college. I was disappointed at first, however I now see that it was for the best. I wasn’t ready to go to a University yet and my family still needed time to heal. I certainly didn’t want to be another financial burden for my mother. It also gave me the chance to work part-time at the college. I worried about who would be there for my sister if something would happen to my mother. I wanted to make sure I could make it home quickly if I ever needed. I now knew that tragedy could happen when you least expect it. I have debated on becoming a physician for years. After my father passed away, I knew for sure this is what I wanted to pursue. I am committed to pursuing a degree in medicine so that I can help others. I want to be able to be part of the process in deciding the right individualized treatment plan whether it be holistic, traditional, or even experimental. I want people to have options and to know their options. I want people to have the knowledge of wellness programs that are covered by insurance. I want people to recognize that having a healthy body is their greatest asset and they should try to preserve it. Even if I have to apply for loans to make it through medical school, I will finish. I have been accepted to the University of Houston this fall as I complete classes for a Bachelor’s in Mathematical Biology. I am applying for scholarships in hopes of being able to stay in on-campus housing. This would mean I wouldn’t have to make the 1.5 hour commute one way each day. I hope that you find me a worthy candidate.

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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