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2014 Second Runner Up - Essay

Jack Cawthon

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Hometown: Brighton, MI - School: Grand Valley State University

I’ve always been the type of person who tries to have a plan for everything. It’s something my parents instilled in me, and for most of my life that mentality made me feel better about my surroundings. I felt insulated in a bubble where I could plan my way through anything, and that I couldn’t be taken by surprise. My parents felt the same way by saving what they could, and having small life insurance policies in case something happened to either of them. Truthfully though, while all of my family had the mindset of planning for the future, we never truly planned for if one of us died. Because we are all naive enough to think it couldn’t happen.

My mother went into the hospital last January thinking she had a gallbladder problem. From there, her medical problems snowballed into something we couldn’t imagine. A week after being admitted, the doctors found a cancerous colon tumor. On top of the cancer, her body was fighting a medical infection called sepsis, causing organ failure. Three weeks after being admitted, my mother passed away. The onslaught of infections and cancer ravaged her, and in turn left my family and I in an unfathomed state of mourning. This wasn’t supposed to happen, we would tell ourselves. The truth is though; we were so surprised because we never properly planned for it.

After my mom’s passing, her life insurance policy was used to cover medical expenses. My family was never super well off financially, and so with my Mom’s income gone, we began to struggle to make ends meet. My father began working longer hours to take care of all of the bills, and my sister and I started working more to make up some of the lost income. The months of struggling continued, and my sister and I slowly realized that maybe our college plans were going to be put on hold. Because of financial burdens, my sister had to withdraw from going to a prestigious engineering school, and I had to begin paying for some of my tuition at community college. These new financial problems shook my family to the core, and made me rethink everything I had been taught about what planning really meant.

My goal was to transfer to a university this fall to finish a Bachelors degree, but because of financial uncertainty I might not be able too. If my mother had proper life insurance, I could possibly finish college worry free. But one thing I’ve learned is life is unexpected, and I need to start planning for a new future. I can’t turn back time and have my mother get adequate life insurance, but I can plan to make sure my dreams come true. I’m on a new path now, one where I will need help to reach my goals. But I’m going to try my hardest to attain them, and I think that if anything, that would make my mom proud.

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2014 Top Recipients