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2013 First Runner Up - Essay

Takashi Yanagi

Scholarship Amount: $7,500

Hometown: Urbandale, IA - School: University of Notre Dame

My mom always told me, Do your best and God will do the rest. She raised me as a single parent for 13 years struggling to make ends meet every week. My mom contracted ovarian cancer during my senior year and needed immediate treatment that was ultimately ineffective. As an only child, I lived by myself dwelling in my emotional fears and felt trapped in a deep, dark abyss of emptiness.

During her final moments, my eyes filled with tears as my brain worked to comprehend my situation. The paleness of her face reflected in the light, and the mix of emotions I went through felt like a flood ready to drown me at any time. The once strong woman I knew now lay there defenseless, fragile, and debilitated. Knowing this was the last time I would see her, I realized all the things I wanted to say. I held her hand and told her I loved her. I expressed how sorry I was for the times I had let her down and asked for her forgiveness. Realizing that I would never see her again, I made an unyielding promise to make her proud and become the successful man she always wanted me to be: a personal vow I carry every day. I will never forget that moment, as my goodbye was truly final.

In the midst of my sadness, I was forced to take on a new life of financial and domestic independence. Keeping my promise in mind, I managed to graduate at the top of my class, get into my number one school: the University of Notre Dame, and take on the responsibilities of being an independent adult. Because of inadequate life insurance, I have had to sell my house for a fraction of what it was paid for, my car, and other belongings to provide for various insurances, medical bills, and the costs of college tuition. I now live with a gracious church family during summer breaks.

Attending Notre Dame as an accounting major is the most important investment for me to attain a successful future as a CPA. I have applied to a countless number of scholarships in hopes of funding my college education without being boggled down with loans and debt. I have taken up multiple jobs as a sales clerk and a student caller to pay off what I can while earning minimum wage.

Although life insurance would have lessened the pressures of my financial burdens and allowed me to keep the car and home, I was still able to overcome the darkest days of my life through persistence and determination, and I will continue to fight through my struggles to become a successful CPA. From this ordeal, I have learned to provide adequate insurance and financial security for my future family. I will carry the values my mom instilled in me as a source of inspiration to overcome any challenges I face. This is my personal statement that I live by every day.

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2013 Top Recipients