ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Johana Lopez was just 12 years old when two police officers knocked on her family's front door one Sunday morning and informed her mother that her father had been killed. The news was devastating, yet the family's tragic situation was quickly compounded by financial challenges since Johana's dad had been the primary breadwinner and did not have a financial backup plan in place. Johana's mother made the decision to move the family from Texas to Florida and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, but it still wasn't enough. When Johana was 16, she decided to drop out of high school and delay getting her diploma in order to work a full-time job to help support her family.
The nonprofit LIFE Foundation created the LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program to respond to stories just like this and recognize the character and perseverance young people have shown following the loss of a parent or guardian. Today, LIFE awarded a total of $112,000 in scholarships to 61 students thanks to donations from the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, the MDRT Foundation and the NAHU Foundation. Johana Lopez and Brittney LaCombe are LIFE's two $10,000 grand prize winners.
"Every year, thousands of young people are forced to put their education plans on hold when they experience first-hand the financial hardships that can occur when a loved one dies prematurely without adequate life insurance," said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation. "Since 2005, the LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program has helped nearly 300 determined young people pursue their college dreams. We are proud to honor them but also hope that in highlighting their perseverance we can encourage all parents to evaluate their insurance needs and raise awareness of the importance of including life insurance in their financial plans."
Johana is now 21 and has worked hard to continue her pursuit of a college degree. She eventually earned her high school diploma and while she was accepted to a four-year college, she attended courses at her local community college because it was more affordable. However, this year, Johana will finally get her wish. She was recently accepted again to the University of Miami and will begin her studies there this month with the help of financial aid and scholarships like the LIFE Lessons Program. Johana's story, told in her own words, can be viewed online at http://youtu.be/G6P9BxmDQvk.
To be considered for the LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program, students were asked to submit either a video or written essay describing the emotional and financial struggles they faced after losing a parent, with specific mention of how the lack of adequate life insurance coverage affected their college-funding plans. Johana submitted a video entry to this year's program and was selected as one of the grand prize winners via an online, public vote that took place during the month of July. Brittney was the 2012 LIFE Lessons Scholarship essay grand prize winner and was also featured in a special section of the September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, alongside LIFE's 2012 realLIFEstories Client Service Award winners.
The remaining scholarships winners were selected by a panel of judges consisting of members of the LIFE Board and staff, as well as executives from several leading insurance companies. The stories of this year's top scholarship recipients can be viewed on the LIFE website.
The 2012 LIFE Lessons Scholarship Recipients
The 61 students who received LIFE Lessons scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $1,000 include:
$10,000 Scholarship Recipients: Brittney LaCombe (St. Petersburg, Fla., University of South Florida); Johana Lopez (Bay Harbor, Fla., University of Miami)
$5,000 Scholarship Recipients: Nicole Bachman (Mission Viejo, Calif., Arizona State University); Terran Boydston Walker (Kansas City, Mo., The University of Missouri); Renae Gupta (East Greenwich, R.I., Alaska Pacific University); Anthony Hicks (San Diego, Calif., San Diego City College); David Leyden (Pittsburgh, Pa., University of Pittsburgh); Emily Moore (Colorado Springs, Colo., University of Colorado Springs)
$2,500 Scholarship Recipients: Joshua Barreras (Montebello, Calif., East Los Angeles College); Daniel Carroll (Akron, Ohio, University of Massachusetts Amherst); Deidra Irace (Tuskegee, Ala., Tuskegee University); Alleyah Miner (Fort Washington, Md., Lafayette College); Corynn Musser (Kent, Ohio, Kent State University); Aliana Tabibian (Houston, Texas, Austin Community College)
$1,000 Scholarship Recipients: Sharleta Atkins (Toledo, Ohio, University of Toledo); Kalia Barrow (Syracuse, N.Y., Syracuse University); Eryn Bonds (Athens, Ga., The University of Georgia); Matthew Bonferraro (Brockport, N.Y., Liberty University); Jaime Camargo (Chicago, Ill., Northern Illinois University); Kamaie Clark (Rialto, Calif., Arizona State University); Demetrius Colaites (Nesconset, N.Y., South Dakota State University); Jeremy Cwikla (Gainesville, Ga., Gainesville State College); James Dempsey (Scranton, Pa., Marywood University); Ally Edwards (McAlester, Okla., University of Oklahoma); Delaney Edwards (McAlester, Okla., University of Oklahoma); Valerie Farmer (Deerfield, Ill., University of Illinois Springfield); Danelle Finnen (Topsham, Maine, Dartmouth College); Kara Franco (Elk Grove Village, Ill., North Park University); Jerome Fulton (Gainesville, Fla., University of Florida); Susan Glenn (Seattle, Wash., University of Washington); Alexandra Hamill (Seattle, Wash., Cornish College of the Arts); Darryn Harden (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Maryland Eastern Shore); Christena Henderson (Deltona, Fla., Valencia College); Kendra Hughes (Waupun, Wis., Western Governor's University); Elizabeth Iskow (Tallahassee, Fla., Florida State University); Nicole Jakobowski (Ashton, Md., University of Pittsburgh); Katherine Jenkins (Somersville, Conn., University of Saint Joseph); Derek Joggerst (Saint Mary, Mo., Mineral Area College); Remington Krueger (Fargo, N.D., North Dakota State University); Michael Kyllo-Kittleson (Saint Paul, Minn., The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities); Shelby LeBlanc (Berkeley, Calif., University of California, Berkeley); Marlena Livingston (Albuquerque, N.M., University of New Mexico); Leah Lyndon (Plantation, Fla., Arizona State University, Tempe Campus); Cathyana Marcel (North Lauderdale, Fla., Lee University); Emily Martin (Bloomington, Ind., Indiana University); Megan Martin (Frisco, Texas, University of Texas at Austin); Kaitlin Maxwell (West Palm Beach, Fla., School of Visual Arts); Sarah Montgomery (Binghamton, N.Y., Nova Southeastern University); Rachel Mooers (Delafield, Wis., Oberlin College); Christian O' Connor (Petaluma, Calif., Sonoma State University); Aaron Petersen (Delta, Utah, Southern Utah University); Candace Pollock (Bremen, Ind., Holy Cross College); Farah Rashdan (Reno, Nev., University of Nevada, Reno); Angelia Schmidt (Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University); Louisa Sena (San Diego, Calif., San Diego Mesa College); Lauren Sergent (Chesterton, Ind., Indiana University Northwest); Amanda Server (Crossville, Tenn., Tennessee Tech University); Alec Sevilla (Miami, Fla., University of Miami); Kathryn Strickland (Athens, Ga., The University of Georgia); Miles Tabibian (Houston, Texas, University of Texas at Austin), Cami Walker (Heber, Calif., San Diego State 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 www.lifehappens.org/donate.
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 www.lifehappens.org.
SOURCE The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE)