John Hancock Recipient

Maria Butler

AMOUNT: $10,000
SCHOOL: Virgina Tech

My dad died without leaving me anything. Not even a goodbye. I got the phone call from my uncle on a Saturday morning. He died 5,000 miles away from me, and I could not afford to travel to attend his funeral. I attend Virginia Tech, in the small town of Blacksburg, Virginia. My dad died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He went there to seek cheaper health care, as he could no longer afford it in the United States. He spent over 5 months in the hospital and eventually died of septic shock.

My dad was the only family I had. I relied on him for everything. He was everything to me. However, he left me with absolutely nothing. The house is under foreclosure, he owed thousands in credit card debt and over $20,000 on our car, and he had no life insurance. I begged him many times throughout the past couple years to get life insurance and write a will. He always said he would do it later. He never did.

Now, I am all on my own, and I still have a year of college left. I am still figuring out how to pay for my out-of-state tuition, rent, food, and health insurance. My mom has not financially supported me in college due to her mental health issues, health problems, and homophobia towards me. On top of this, my parents were in the process of getting a divorce when he died. I have been homeless at times due to my relationship with my mom, but I have been fortunate enough to have friends and neighbors let me live with them for a while in the past couple of years. My half-sister and I only reconnected during the time our dad was in the hospital. My half-sister lives in Brazil, and my mom moved there during the divorce. I have no family in the United States anymore.

I have gotten a job, applied for financial aid, and sought out advice from mentors on how to deal with all this. Sometimes I feel like I do not have time to grief. I am always stressed out and worried about my future. It keeps me up at night and I struggle to focus on school. The financial burden he left me with causes a lot of stress and emotional damage. Sometimes I’m too scared to go out and exercise in case I get hurt and end up with hospital bills. Had my dad had adequate life insurance coverage, I would not be in this situation. I would have enough resources to focus on my studies and finish school.

I am currently a meteorology major, and I hope to serve in the United Air Force as a Weather Officer. My dream is to go into climate change research in hopes to help find ways to help our planet deal with global warming. My dad always dreamed of going to my college graduation. I hope I can achieve that in his honor. 

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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