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2013 Second Runner Up - Essay

Neariah Jarvis

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Hometown: Mystic, CT - School: Southern New Hampshire University

If my mother had adequate life insurance coverage, my life would be dramatically different. But she did not. So my sisters and I faced poverty, disownment from family as our mother was passing from AIDS, and becoming orphaned, all before I turned five years of age! Fortunately before my mother’s passing, she found housing through Noank Baptist Church, enabling the Reases to become our guardians.

Upon entering high school, church members encouraged me to earn money. So I worked as the church’s groundskeeper assistant tending to their gardens and painting fences, as a bus boy at the local Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough restaurant, and as a janitor in the local Universal Food Store in Noank, Connecticut. As a member of the church, I was encouraged to be very active in the youth group, graduating high school with 180 community service hours.

As of my 18th birthday, October 5, 2010, I am no longer under guardianship. As a 20-year-old independent and the youngest of five siblings, I have neither knowledge nor contact with any family members, save one sister. In my current school, Southern New Hampshire University, I participated in work-study as a full spectrum wait staff at Cafe Dolce, as a culinary steward, helping maintain food stocks for culinary labs, and most recently, as an employee in my school’s Audio Visual department. I applied for 26 scholarships my senior year in high school and 38 scholarships to make way for my sophomore year at college. I earn what money I can from work-study positions, but pay the balance of my schooling with grants and interest-bearing loans, as I have no other means of financial support. I put 85% of my pay towards education, but the total pales compared to college costs. I know that because of my difficult circumstances, my graduation depends on scholarship funds.

If my mother had any life insurance, I can only imagine my burdens would be much more manageable. My three sisters, one brother, and I may still have kept connections with more financial stability. As a person with Asperger’s, it is very difficult to connect with people and express my emotions. Because I was so young when it happened, I grew up with a broken sense of family unity. Since my senior year in high school, I have been juggling many tasks, including school, work-study, community service, and scholarship writing, in order to support myself. I can say these combined duties are overwhelming and, when remembering my low funds, often prod me to wonder if I will ever fulfill my dream of graduating with an Accounting degree. Based on my strong mathematical skills, I find accounting to be nothing short of an ideal college major as my 3.633 CGPA proves. I am inspired by the broad spectrum of career possibilities that an Accounting degree offers. However, I will need help if I ever hope to accomplish my goals. Adequate life insurance would have altered everyone’s situation for the better, though I can only imagine.

You can help students like Neariah make their dream of a college education come true by donating to the nonprofit Life Lessons Scholarship fund. Donate here.

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