ARLINGTON, Va. – Rachel Tang, whose mother passed away from cancer when she was 19, and Kiristen Draughn, whose father unexpectedly drowned in a boating accident when she was 4, have both experienced the unimaginable loss of a parent and how drastically their lives would change as a result.
Along with the emotional toll, both Rachel's and Kiristen's families were left with insufficient life insurance coverage, forcing them to face incredible financial stress in the wake of their losses. Both of these families found themselves living paycheck to paycheck and were forced to move from their homes. Today, Rachel works multiple jobs and, through support from friends and family, is studying to get her college degree. Kiristen works at a local hospital while also studying to become a doctor.
Recognizing the character and perseverance of students like Rachel and Kiristen, who face such adversity, the nonprofit organization Life Happens sponsors the annual Life Lessons Scholarship Program and awards recipients with scholarships to help pay for the college education they deserve. This year, Life Happens has awarded a record of $275,000 in scholarship money to 34 students through the program, with awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.
Rachel is the recipient of a $12,500 Life Lessons Scholarship and Kiristen is the recipient of an $8,000 Life Lessons Scholarship. The top recipients stories can be viewed here.
"By sharing their personal stories, these brave and inspiring young individuals remind us of the important role life insurance plays in providing financial protection for family and loved ones," said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of Life Happens. "We are grateful that we can help make their college dreams a reality."
To apply for the Life Lessons Scholarship Program, students are asked to submit a 500-word essay or three-minute video in which they discuss the financial and emotional hardships they have faced as a result of the loss of a parent who had little or no life insurance.
The full list of 2016 Life Lesson Scholarship Recipients includes:
• $15,000 Scholarship Recipients (4): Hanna Boykin (Fresno City College); James Clodfelter (Wingate University); Makayla Hendricks (The University of Utah); Samantha Ferraro (University of South Florida)
• $12,500 State Farm Scholarship Recipients (2): Rachel Tang (University of Southern California); Lindsey Stevens (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
• $12,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Sinclair Blue (Scripps College)
• Life Lessons LIDMA/Zander Insurance $10,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Claire Edgell (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
• Life Lessons Life Quotes $10,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Hannah Klopf (University of Florida)
• $8,000 Scholarship Recipients (11): Amari Walker (Bethune-Cookman University); Kiristen Draughn (Elon University); Harlee Johnson (Taft College); Lindsay Smith (Temple University); Sommar Crofford (Kennesaw State University); Kristen Leonard (Marquette University); Chelsea Romero (University of California, Riverside); Alexia Dorsey (St. Ambrose University); Curtis Hill (University of Mississippi); Glory Maenius (Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi); Samuel Panicacci (Western Michigan University)
• $5,000 Scholarship Recipients (10): Heather Wetherholt (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); Hannah Greenberg (University of Maryland College Park); Chase Morgan (Seminole State College of Florida); Emma Backes (Arcadia University); John Nevers (Minnesota State University – Mankato); Deborah Burgess (Saint Joseph's College of Maine); Victoria Vatter (Florida State University); Somer Greene (Murray Edwards College); Jezebel Perez (Tallahassee Community College); Maiyah Ocampo (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
• In honor of Melinda Meyer $5,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Sky Medina (Texas A&M University)
• Life Lessons LIDMA $5,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): James Marshall (Pomona College)
• Life Lessons LIDMA/Zander Insurance $5,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Elisabeth Hess (Auburn University)
• Life Lessons AccuQuote $5,000 Scholarship Recipient (1): Zachary Kern (Purdue University)
This is the 12th year Life Happens has sponsored the Life Lessons Scholarship Program. It has been made possible by the generous financial support of the MDRT Foundation, the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, State Farm, Pacific Life Foundation, Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association (LIDMA), AccuQuote, Life Quotes and others. Life Happens also accepts contributions from individual donors. To learn more about making a tax-deductible donation, visit www.lifehappens.org/donate.
Submissions for Life Happens' 2017 Life Lessons Scholarship Program will be accepted starting February 1, 2017 through March 1, 2017. For more information on the program, including the application process, program rules and past recipients, visit www.lifehappens.org/lifelessons.
About Life Happens: Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation's leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.
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