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2013 Second Runner Up - Essay

Kayla Cooper

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA - School: Villanova University

March 18th, 2011 started off as a hectic day. I woke up late for school and had to hurry out the door to catch the bus. It was Friday and all I could think about was getting home and relaxing. When I got home from school, my life flipped upside down. I came home to police cars and a huge crowd. I learned that my dad had committed suicide. I was in shock. I did not believe it. I could feel my heart pulsating throughout my body. I felt numb. I could not say or do anything. Even today as I am writing this, I can remember the sensation I felt that day. Just the night before, my dad and I were dancing to an Usher song on the radio. He thought he was the world’s greatest dancer and insisted on teaching me his moves. He was such a dork. How could such a happy, positive person take his own life?

The passing of my father was not only emotionally, but financially damaging. Our income was cut in half. With donations from relatives and a small savings, we were able to have a respectable memorial service for my dad. Unfortunately, my dad did not have life insurance, so my mom had no financial assistance. When the bills started to pile up, she got another job as a telemarketer. As the oldest sister, I became the stand in mother. I kept the house clean, cooked dinner, and made sure my sisters did their homework. During the summer, I also got a job babysitting. I worked everyday from 9 to 5. Throughout the school year, I worked part-time jobs to help my family in any way I could.

Looking back on this situation, I realize how different our lives would be if my parents had life insurance. We would not have to worry so much about the financial side of things and could focus more on staying close as a family. No one knows what life will bring and preparation is the only way to handle it. If something were to happen to me, I would want my family to be stable. Losing a loved one is hard enough without worrying about how you are going to support a family.

My father always wanted me to further my education. As the oldest, he expected me to be the first to graduate from college. He told anyone that would listen that I was going to be the first woman president. His belief in me is what keeps me motivated. I remember all of the high hopes he had for me and I refuse to let him down. Affording college is going to be a difficult task, but through determination, the support of my family and a massive amount of scholarships, I will make it happen. I know my father will be looking down on me when I walk across the stage to get my college diploma.

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2013 Top Recipients