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2006 Grand Prize - Essay

Jermaine Suggs

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Hometown: Selma, AL - School: Concordia College

Imagine being in college and approaching midterms and a call comes to the payphone in the lobby of the dorm. The voice on the other end is telling you that your grandmother has died. Then, after all the crying and the casket is lowered on Sunday, you return back to school and try to concentrate when your heart is throbbing and aching. On Tuesday, two days after burying a grandmother the pay phone rings again, this time the voice is reluctant to say what is wrong it just says come home immediately. Upon reaching home the house is like it was last week crying, and sobbing everywhere and then you are approached by your mother and she barely says over the sniffing and weeping, “Jermaine, your father died today.”

It seemed like the sky was falling and the sun was surrounding me, my legs were heavier than they had ever been in my life, my head seemed as if it was filled with water, and instead of me crying, I just turned and ran, I ran until my legs hurt, and I kept running until my chest told me I could no further. I fell right there in the grass maybe two feet from the highway. I quit school; I even gave up on life.

The death of my father caused us to lose everything, his business, my ambition, and my siblings’ closeness because of our new financial strain. My father was in the Army National Guard for over fifteen years, but in last two years he had let his life insurance drop and the amount of money owed to the Internal Revenue Service for taxes accrued from his business. If it was not for the life insurance of my grandmother we would not have been able to bury my father.

I live in the black belt in Alabama, a place known for its rich soil, and unfortunately, its degree of poverty throughout a four to five county area. If my father had life insurance it would have softened the blow tremendously, since his debt in turn became ours. I knew that college of course was out of the question my mom still had a younger sibling to look after as well as my niece who my mom had taken in. So, I got a job and that’s what I have been doing for the last three years working with hopes of attending college.

A common saying among Christians is “A person can take nothing with them into the after-life.” I would like to amend that saying by adding that even though nothing can be taken into the after-life something can be left behind; call it an after-death blessing and its name is LIFE INSURANCE.

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2006 Top Recipients