Jeff Zander Recipient

Joshua Chavez

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: University of Maryland

My dad was a single father, working hard 7 days a week to provide for our family – never having time to rest. Struggling against poverty, my father was forced to work hard and do whatever he could to make ends meet and provide a better life for my sister and I. My father would always tell me that he wanted me to go to college so that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my body’s health in the scorching sun as he had all these years. My father wasn’t able to save up much money, neither did he have life insurance. He was only 40-years-old when he passed away, he was still very young and healthy and we never thought that he would pass away so soon.

I spent each of my summer days watching over him struggle to fight off the deadly virus COVID-19 slowly eating at him. Eventually after 2 long months my father passed away. He didn’t have life insurance, nor did he have a will, instead what we were left with was debt. Nearly half a year later, I am living with my sister as we live in a home that we are unsure we will even be able to keep. We are slowly paying off the debt that my father had with help from family and friends, as well as with support from our church and a GoFundMe page. I am also applying to part time jobs to help carry some of the responsibility and paying off the debt while preparing myself for college expenses. My sister and I are currently working on receiving his belongings, and paying off funeral costs.

If my father had life insurance coverage we would have less costs being thrown at us, and we would live more comfortably knowing that we had some sort of money to help us pay for my college education. While I am still pursuing the college that I have dreamed of since I was a child, I have had to rely more on applying to scholarships and choosing whichever college will provide me with the most financial support regardless of distance. I have already been accepted by multiple colleges, including my dream college. I am looking to pursue a degree in computer science and in music. This way, I will fulfill my father’s wishes that I won’t have to endure hard labor like he did, and that I’ll continue developing my everlasting passion for music in the university.

The loss of my father was the loss of my best friend and my normal life, losing him was like losing a part of myself. I have not completely overcome the pain and sadness that comes with loss, but I have still used my recent experiences as a form of encouragement and motivation. Although my family and I are facing financial troubles, I will not be discouraged by the lingering debt, nor will I give up on achieving my dreams. Thank you for your consideration!


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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