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Scholarship Recipients Stories Underscore Need for Parents to Include Life Insurance in Financial Plan

  • Published: 2010-11-18 : Author: LIFE Foundation
  • Synopsis: LIFE Foundation Awards Scholarships to Students Struggling to Pay for College Due to the Death of a Parent.

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LIFE Foundation Awards $105,000 in Scholarships to 59 Students Struggling to Pay for College Due to the Death of a Parent.

Esther Kim was 16 when her father died of stomach cancer without any life insurance, leaving her family in great financial hardship. Since then, Esther has worked almost nonstop along with her mom to keep the family afloat financially. A straight "A" student, she hasn't allowed these difficult times to put a damper on her dreams. In January, Esther will begin attending Oglethorpe University on the money she has saved and with the help of student loans and scholarships - such as the $10,000 scholarship she received from the nonprofit LIFE Foundation as the 2010 LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program grand prize winner.

"When parents die prematurely without adequate life insurance, the people who depend on them most - their children - often face difficult financial realities that can force their dreams of a higher education and a better life to be put on hold," said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation. "We are proud to be able to help deserving young people like Esther and our other scholarship recipients to reach their college goals, and we hope their stories will remind all parents to protect the financial well-being of their loved ones through proper financial planning."

The LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program awards scholarships to students who are struggling to pay for college because a parent or guardian died with little or no life insurance. This year, the LIFE Foundation awarded a total of $105,000 in scholarships to 59 deserving students across the United States. These students were asked to submit either a video or written essay describing the financial impact of losing their mom or dad at a young age. The stories from the top scholarship recipients can be found here.

All but one of the scholarships were selected by a judging panel consisting of members of the LIFE Board and staff, as well as executives from several leading insurance companies. The remaining scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship in the video category, was determined through an online vote that was open to the public and took place from July 14 to August 13, 2010. The winner of the online vote was Mashell Ewing of Berkeley, Calif. Like Esther, Mashell knows firsthand just how difficult life can become when a parent dies without having a proper financial plan in place.

A single parent, Mashell's mother was everything to her three children. When she died of a heart attack, there was no life insurance to help provide for her children's financial needs. Mashell and her brother took on jobs and worked long hours to pay rent, and stepped in to care for their younger sister. College suddenly seemed un-affordable. However, when Mashell was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, she decided she would somehow make it work. Mashell has had to take out loans and work two jobs to fund her education, but her hard work and determination have paid off. Mashell plans to graduate from college in May 2011. You can view Mashell's video entry here.

Full List of LIFE Lessons Scholarship Recipients

The 59 students who received LIFE Lessons scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $1,000 include:

$10,000 Grand Prize Scholarship Recipient: Esther Kim (Sugar Hill, GA, Oglethorpe University)

$5,000 Scholarship Recipients: Austin Haner (Riverside, CA, University of Arizona), Jessica Hively (Conneaut, OH, Case Western Reserve University), Karim Abouelnaga (Astoria, NY, Cornell University), Susanna Manthei (Riverside, CA, California Baptist University), Tianxin Ku (St. Louis, MO, Washington University in Saint Louis), Mashell Ewing (Berkeley, CA, University of California, Berkeley), Fariha Hoque (Miramar, FL, University of Florida)

$2,500 Scholarship Recipients: Brittnee Clary (Los Angeles, CA, University of California, Los Angeles), Giavanna Ficarra (Aptos, CA, Ithaca College), Jarell Green (Sparks, NV, University of Nevada, Reno), Kaitlyn Donovan (Spring, TX, Texas Christian University), Massih Zaboli (Mableton, GA, Georgia Institute of Technology), Stephanie Downing (Jefferson, GA, Gainesville State College)

$1,000 Scholarship Recipients: Abby Bishop (Lebanon, OH, Sinclair Community College), Amy Dreisiger (Eastport, NY, Cornell University), Andrew McLean (Whittier, CA, Rio Hondo Community College), Angela Min (Visalia, CA, University of California, Davis), Arya Morman (Portland, OR, Oregon State University), Ashley Vanschindel (Corona, CA, Riverside Community College District - Norco Campus), Bethany Goodman (Lawrence, KS, University of Phoenix), Celaena Powder (Palmer, AK, New York University), Charles Thompson (Frederick, MD, Pennsylvania College of Technology), Christin Wilkins (Waco, TX, Baylor University), Christine Shen (Arlington, VA, College of William & Mary), Courtney Dotson (Saint Peters, MO, Lindenwood University), Crystal Johnson (Memphis, TN, Amberton University), Danialle Hays (Martinsville, IN, Franklin College), David Matusiak, II (West Point, MS, East Mississippi Community College), Elizabeth Hallam (Overland Park, KS, University of Kansas), Emily Lambert (Westminster, MA, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Erica Brady (Republic, MO, Everest College), Hanna Fordahl (Ventura, CA, California Lutheran University), Ian Buzby (Newton, MA, University at Albany-SUNY), Jalina Smith (Duluth, GA, Georgia State University), JessLeigh Bartley (Santa Maria, CA, Allan Hancock College), Josip Setka (Skokie, IL, University of Illinois at Chicago), Kamalia Blunt (Atlanta, GA, University of Georgia), Katherine Saccone (East Hanover, NJ, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), Kathleen Loringer (Delran, NJ, Burlington County College), Kelsey English (Durham, NH, University of New Hampshire), Melanie McMenamin (Plainfield, IL, College of DuPage), Meredith Mixter (Chico, CA, California State University, Chico), Morgan Turner (Ashby, MN, University of Minnesota, Morris), Nichole Sandoval (Streamwood, IL, University of Arizona), Nina Lang (Belleview, FL, West Virginia University), Phillamenia Powers (Detroit, MI, Ferris State University), Rebecca Gomberg (Cherry Hill, NJ, Camden County College), Samantha Nyman (Payson, UT, Stevens-Henager College), Sara O'Brien (McKinney, TX, Baylor University), Shanique Patterson (Fort Pierce, FL, University of South Florida), Shanise Miller (Atlanta, GA, Clayton State University), Shayla McElroy (Hampton, VA, Hampton University), Staci Kleinbaum (Manalapan, NJ, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), Tiffany Schmitz (San Francisco, CA, BioLa University), Tracy Lais (Pismo Beach, CA, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo), Tynisha Sudberry (Chicago, IL, Howard University), and Zachary Long (Advance, NC, Lenoir - Rhyne University)

About the LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program - The LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program is open to young people between ages 17 and 24, who have experienced the death of a parent or legal guardian, and are currently enrolled in, or have been accepted to a college, university or trade school. Applications are solicited in the spring and scholarship recipients are notified in the summer. LIFE accepts individual, tax-deductible donations for the LIFE Lessons Scholarship Fund online at For more information, visit

About LIFE - The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was founded in 1994 in response to the public's growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs. To learn more about these topics, please visit

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