Jeff Zander Recipient

Grace Fentress

AMOUNT: $5,000
SCHOOL: University of Arkansas
Tick, tock, tick, tock, the clock continued on.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“I did everything I could to help him.”
“Say something please!”
Silence. Absolute silence overcame me as I sat in the familiar, red, upholstered chair in the church office of my elementary school. My eyes darted to the ground and I began fidgeting with the hem of my skirt. My seemingly invisible alcoholic father had met his match.
A week before the death of my father my mom was made aware that his $750,000 life insurance policy had been canceled. Despite my parents divorce, all financial responsibility for the funeral and other miscellaneous costs fell onto my mom as his entire family had shut him and us out of their lives. Private education was something my dad valued and fought for in life and my mom did everything in her power to keep us in the schools that had become our safe place. Due to my good grades I was able to receive financial aid for high school but the financial hole my dad had left us in was growing everyday.
At fourteen I got my first job; this was something my mother would have never asked me to do but something I knew I needed to do. By my junior year I was working three to four jobs at a time in order to pay for my car, gas, insurance, and to put money into my college fund. Being able to say I have never had to ask my mom for money is one of my proudest accomplishments. If my dad would have kept his life insurance policy, none of these things would have been an issue.
My mom was an entrepreneur who pursued graphic design, starting and owning her business for over 25 years. In order to keep up with expenses my mom had to put her passions aside and work a more traditional 9-5. When the time came to look at schools, it became obvious that the fancy private universities I had grown up hearing and dreaming about were not for me. The financial burden of college is one my mother and I can not bear alone.
If my dad had a life insurance policy there would be no stress about entering “the most influential years” of my life. I would not be overwhelmed by the guilt I feel everytime I put on my school uniform or talk about college. I would see going to law school as a next step not a dream. I have spent the past eight years of my life working hard to provide for myself and to help my family and I know that going to college is the next step. I plan to use my education to better my life and to support my family because in life or in death I never want my family to have financial burden keeping them from their goals.

The Life Lessons Scholarship is made possible through individual donations and corporate sponsorships. Your financial support can make a world of difference for a young person struggling to afford a college education due to the loss of a parent or guardian.

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