Trustmark Recipient

Martha Haddis

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: University of California, Berkeley

As a senior in high school, most of my peers were celebrating the conclusion to the most memorable chapter of their lives as we were about to say goodbye. I, on the other hand, was broken mourning the loss of my father.

The months leading up to the untimely death of my father on September 30, 2018 was filled with many hospital visits, financial setbacks, and changes of family dynamics. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer and fought for over three long years. Unfortunately my parents had left me and my siblings out of the loop of my father’s health condition until six months prior to his death, since they did not want to burden us with the hardships they were dealing with and to leave us to be kids. It was not long after my parents finally told us that he had cancer, he would have to be fully supported by an oxygen tank. I could see life leaving my father’s body before my eyes. Long days would pass of my father being at the hospital struggling with chemo treatments and visits– medical bills piling up on the kitchen counter. My mother had to work three jobs to support our family from our loss to go towards the mortgage and medical bills, working overnight shifts as well. After his passing, I stepped up into a role in the household to help relieve the financial and emotional burden. This meant my role would be to pay bills, buy groceries, cook, clean, help my younger sister who has autism, and work– forcing the thought of higher education out of my mind. By the change in my family dynamic, I was forced into growth, vulnerability, and self-reflection.

Sadly, education was very hard for me to focus on as I was angry, depressed, and had familial priorities. If he had adequate life insurance my mother could have been more involved in my life and I could have fully focused on college applications and pursue higher education as my peers would without the burden of finances. Yet, I attended community college due to family dependency and the inability to afford college.

Five years later, I am now attending the number one public university in the United States pursuing a degree in Political Science and Public Policy, still working and giving back to my family as much as possible– and dealing with financial burdens of my own in college. With my degree I plan to give back to underrepresented and funded communities through policy changing in regards to Human Rights and Democracy, Immigration, and Education. Although one cannot fully heal from the death of a loved one, I have come a long way. By forcing myself into new chapters, I was motivated and learned responsibility, adaptability, and resilience. From that experience, I’ve pushed myself out of places I didn’t think were possible. I know my father would be so proud of who I am today…

I love you always Dad!

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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