Back to Life Lessons

2008 Grand Prize - Essay

Tracy Basden

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Hometown: Lima, PA - School: Neumann College

By the time I was eighteen both my parents had passed away. My mother died when I was four and my brother was seven weeks old. My father became a single parent. With no formal education and an income that just about made ends meet my dad struggled often to keep things afloat.

Growing up my dad stressed the importance of graduating high school, going to college and getting into a good paying/stable career. My father became ill when I was in eighth grade. He did not have medical insurance and for almost a year went misdiagnosed. Eventually, he was informed that he had end stage Hepatitis C and Cirrhosis of the liver. The doctors said he most likely got the Hepatitis from a blood transfusion he received when he was nine years old because it was dormant in his body for over twenty years. Luckily, he was a Vietnam vet and was able to go to the Veterans hospital for medical treatment. As my dads health declined the doctors informed him that he needed to quit his job because he was not in a condition to work or drive. I overheard my dad arguing with the doctors about how was he to make ends meet with two kids and no job.

I decided to start night school and work full time to help my dad with the bills. As his health declined and his illness progressed we switched roles, I was now the caretaker and he was the one who needed care. The last couple weeks of his life were spent in the hospital as his body shut down and he was dying. After my dad passed away I went and obtained guardianship of my brother. My father had everything I needed organized in a filing cabinet along with a small life insurance policy.

Without his life insurance policy I would not have been able to pay for the expenses of the funeral. I have had to work two jobs at a time, raise my brother, run a household, pay bills and do everything that most adults do while going to college. It has been a challenge. I have had many of ups and downs and times where I wondered how I was going to put food on the table let alone pay for school books.

There are times where I have had to take a semester off of school to catch up on bills but no matter how hard times may get I will not give up on my dream of graduating college with a nursing degree. My struggles have made me stronger and taught me many things about life especially how important it is to have a good paying job , benefits and life insurance. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my parents but I know they are looking down and very proud of my brother and I for working hard and going to college.

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

2008 Top Recipients