Country Financial Recipient

Olivia Knudson

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: Seattle University

In 2003, my mother was diagnosed with stage-four metastatic breast cancer and battled for her life over the next 13 years as it invaded her body—spreading to her bones, kidneys, liver, lungs, and spine. My mother’s body weakened each time she fought the deadly beast. Her heart became fragile to the point where she had surgery to implant a heart defibrillator. As the cancer progressed, Mom was getting worse. She was unable to work due to the severity of her disease and the frequency of complications.

In November of 2012, my father had been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme—a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. I witnessed as my dad re-learned how to eat, speak, and walk. Neither I, nor my family, could do anything to help him. All we had was patience and hope. Eleven months later, Dad had a terrible fall that resulted in him not being able to complete his chemotherapy. Dad died October 4, 2013.

There was a plateau of unsteadiness after his death. Our family had little income. We relied on my dad’s life insurance to pay the bills. I worried how my sister and I, as two young women entering college, would be able to support ourselves financially and emotionally—but it got worse. Mom’s cancer spread. April 2, 2014, I became an orphan. Writing became a coping mechanism to help me heal and grieve, and when we could no longer afford our house, it helped me in my transition as I moved to my aunt’s. Months of meetings with lawyers, and finishing payments on medical bills and our mortgage ate up most of my mom’s life insurance.

Five years after their deaths, I use the money from my childhood home and the remnants of my parent’s life insurance to pay for tuition. It was my parents’ only wish for us to go to college, and all I could afford was community college. To make that wish and my ambition a reality, I work a part-time job to cover extra costs for class. As I approach graduation with an Associate’s of Arts, I plan my next daunting step towards earning a bachelor’s degree. I am waiting to hear back from Seattle University in hopes to attend and study my passion of creative writing. Through this scholarship, you’re not only investing in me, but in all the people who can find hope in my stories.

My dreams of going to a four-year liberal arts college flowed down the drain and I was left to figure out how to work with my reality. Community college was the answer to an affordable education that could one day move me a step closer to my collegiate goals. As I reach the end of this rope, I am determined to take on the next step in my education. I’m ready and resilient—all that’s left is your help in pushing my story and dream to tell stories forward.

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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