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2010 Grand Prize - Essay

Esther Kim

Scholarship Amount: $10,000

Hometown: Sugar Hill, GA - School: Oglethorpe University

I hate my feet. I hate how masculine and large they are. I only appreciate them because they are irrefutably my father’s. I don’t have much more of his that he has left behind. His legacy doesn’t lie in the man he once was- the kind of person who lit up an entire room with his magnetic charisma and overly loud laugh, the kind of father who would buy me ice cream on cold winter days behind the back of my scrupulous mother. Instead, his legacy lies in the burdens he has passed onto my fragile shoulders.

My future is one I must make for myself. No self earned college fund means no college education. In acknowledgment of this reality, I work as hard and as often as I can. However, all the wages I earned from working 60 hours a week as a private tutor for 4 households, a Summer School Instructor, and a Reading Instructor at the Kumon Center, were spent on bills, other living expenses, and my mother’s gum surgery. I also graduated in December of my senior year to work full time and make as much money for college as I can, having lost that head start working all summer should have given me.

My father had no insurance to speak of, so I work not only to support myself, but my mother and younger brother as well. I am grateful for the job opportunities I’ve had to help support my family, as well as the emotional growth I’ve experienced from overcoming these tribulations, but I can’t help but feel embittered sometimes. Occasionally I feel sorry for myself, but usually I hate how my brother has grown up too fast. I hate how he hesitates to ask for a pair of $20 shoes, or forces himself to stay home some weekends just to save $10.

Maybe if my father had planned ahead with life insurance, my brother wouldn’t be the somber man-child he has become. Maybe my mother wouldn’t drive an hour to and from her job as a janitor, maybe we wouldn’t wear clothes donated from some teachers there, maybe we wouldn’t eat leftover cafeteria food my mom brings home, and maybe we wouldn’t be struggling to pay the rent for an apartment in a town where the median income is $153,161.

I hate my feet. I hate cancer. I hate feeling ashamed. I hate that my college decision will be more dependent on financial aid than my desire to go there. I hate that I am so young and so full of hate. I hate watching my mother cry at night. I hate how I now see everything in life with a price tag. But most of all, I hate how each remembrance of my father is through each bill I pay, rather than through the memories of the healthy, loving father he so deserves to be remembered as.

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2010 Top Recipients