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2011 Grand Prize - Essay

Chezerea Ortiz

Scholarship Amount: $10,000

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM - School: Pima Medical Institute

My father’s death was a blow that crumbled the foundation of my family. Losing him has left us empty handed and broken spirited. He was not only the head of our household; he was the prince of our hearts. His death was untimely, unexpected, and we were unprepared. Financially, we had no means of carrying out my father’s final wishes. (Thankfully, my grandfather was able to provide much needed and appreciated assistance.) Emotionally, we are all working through the grief together.

Following his death, my mother fell into a deep depression. She stopped working and I made it my duty to support my family. I felt a powerful drive to protect what I had left. I worked and paid rent every week at a hotel for my mother and brother. I lived with my fiancé and his family, who helped me through the most difficult period of my life. I got my family into an apartment and put myself further and further in debt. I put the survival of my family above any plans I had for my future.

College seemed like an unattainable goal for me. I felt discouraged because I didn’t have the money to go back to school. My mother had no means of helping me pay tuition. I was working a part time job for just over minimum wage. The majority of my earnings went to my family’s living expenses. Eventually, my mother’s family stepped in and took a huge weight off of my shoulders. They began to give financial care for my mother and encourage me to attend college. My grandparents actually drove me to Pima and helped get me registered.

Since my father had no life insurance, I will have to pay my own way through college. My mother and brother are struggling. Both sides of my family are trying to help but the situation is overwhelming. I have received a few government grants that I am more than grateful for. The remainder of my tuition is now another debt I must pay on my own. I worry about my little brother and how we will pay for his education. I have lost my sense of security along with my father.

If my father had made preparations for his death, things would be different now. Like most of our society, he just never considered the event of his death. He never really planned for the aftermath. We consider death unpleasant and try to focus on life. We forget that death is the final process of life. It is important to be sure that the people who depend upon us will be able to take care of things when we are gone. That way, we leave them free to grieve without any added stress. Life insurance is really one of the few comforts that we can leave our families.

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2011 Top Recipients