ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Hannah Schwartz had just celebrated her 10th birthday when her mother passed away. The emotional hardship her family experienced was quickly compounded with mounting financial burdens to cover burial and funeral expenses. Hannah's mother did not have life insurance and eventually her father was forced to sell the house she grew up in to make ends meet. Hannah recognizes just how much her family has had to sacrifice. For her, it has meant forgoing non-paid internships in her chosen field of study to work part-time jobs to keep her education a priority.
It is stories of young people like Hannah that inspired the nonprofit organization Life Happens to create the Life Lessons Scholarship Program. The scholarship recognizes the character and perseverance of young people who pursue their college dreams despite the loss of a parent or legal guardian.
Life Happens today announced 47 winners for its 2014 program, who will receive a total of $180,000 to put towards their dream of a college education. This is the greatest number of recipients and highest level of funding Life Happens has provided through the program since its inception in 2005. Hannah is this year's grand prize scholarship recipient and will receive $15,000. Her story, in her own words, can be viewed online at: www.lifehappens.org/schwartz.
"The Life Lessons Scholarship Program is a powerful reminder of the unintended consequences that can occur when a parent dies without adequate life insurance. Those left behind are faced with difficult choices, and far too often, aspirational life plans like college have to be put on hold in order to address more immediate financial priorities," said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, president and CEO of Life Happens. "The program reminds us all of how important life insurance is to ensuring our loved ones have a financial lifeline to fall back on."
To be considered for the Life Lessons Scholarship, students submitted an online application accompanied by either a three-minute video or 500-word written essay describing the emotional and financial adversity they faced after losing a parent who did not have adequate life insurance or no coverage at all, and how that affected their college-funding plans.
This year, Life Happens let the public play a role in providing two scholarship recipients from the video category with an additional scholarship. Mikaela Young of Emory University and Sonia Ayala of Yavapai Community College each received an additional $4,000 as a result of people viewing, liking and sharing their videos through Life Happens' Facebook page.
The remaining scholarship winners were selected by a panel of judges consisting of members of the Life Happens Board of Directors, as well as executives from a number of leading insurance companies. The stories of this year's top recipients can be viewed at www.lifehappens.org/scholarship-recipients.
The full list of 2014 Life Lessons Scholarship Recipients includes:
- $15,000 Scholarship Recipient: Hannah Schwartz (San Francisco, University of San Francisco)
- $10,000 Scholarship Recipient: Anne-Margaret Saucier (Dartmouth, Mass., University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
- $7,500 Scholarship Recipients: Sonia Ayala (Prescott, Ariz., Yavapai Community College); Camila Prada (Tallahassee, Fla., Florida State University); Brian Prescott (College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University); Dylan Spurrier (Arlington, Texas, University of Texas at Arlington); Mikaela Young (Atlanta, Emory University)
- $5,000 Scholarship Recipients: Jack Cawthon (Allendale, Mich., Grand Valley State University); John Chick (College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University); Ethel Davis (Baltimore, University of Maryland); Olabisi Ewumi (St. Cloud, Minn., St. Cloud State University); Brendon Hillebrand (Houston, University of Houston); Hannah Klopf (Gainesville, Fla., University of Florida); Bryant Kilkenny (Brenham, Texas, Blinn College); Shaeffer Sande (Orlando, Fla., Vallencia College); Garrett Smith (Springfield, Mo., Missouri State University); Ganiyah Thurston (Prairie View, Texas, Prairie View A&M University)
- $2,000 Scholarship Recipients: Rachel Bellamy (Lakeland, Fla., Southeastern University); Calla Blackwell (Clemson, S.C., Clemson University); Katelyn Brodie (Flagstaff, Ariz., Northern Arizona University); Kaylei Burns (Camarillo, Calif., California State University Channel Islands); Anthony Colangeli (Ewing, N.J., The College of New Jersey); James Edwards (Pittsburgh, Duquesne University); Brianna Frutos (San Diego, University of San Diego); Kyle Grace (San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio); Heather Hansen (Dubuque, Iowa, University of Dubuque); Conor Harris (Portland, Ore., Portland Community College); Rachel Havens (Detroit, Wayne State University); Allison Hires (High Point, N.C., High Point University); Jamie Innocenzi (Arcata, Calif., Humboldt State University); Hannah Jackson (Melbourne, Fla., Florida Institute of Technology); Rebecca Jameson (Cleveland, Lee University); Esther Kentish (Arlington, Texas, University of Texas at Arlington); Kimberly Lizzol (Flushing, N.Y., CUNY Queens College); Shannon Meagher (Galloway, N.J., The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey); Mary Munoz (Norman, Okla., University of Oklahoma); Kelsey Mutale (Orlando, Fla., Adventist University of Health Services); Danielle Peach (Cape Girardeau, Mo., Southeast Missouri State University); Crystal Roe (Milwaukee, Alverno College); Jeremy Sain (Orlando, Fla., Motorcycle Mechanics Institute); Timeka Snead (Buffalo, N.Y., D'Youville College); Samantha Steffen (Highland Heights, Ky., Northern Kentucky University); Erica Stevenson (Iowa City, Iowa, University of Iowa); Hayden Taylor (Tempe, Ariz., Arizona State University); Fiapule Tufuga (Cedar City, Utah, Southern Utah University); Kerry Viengvilai (West Sacramento, Calif., University of California, Davis); Robert Yu (Berkeley, Calif., University of California, Berkeley).
This is the fifth consecutive year that Life Happens has awarded more than $100,000 in Life Lessons scholarships, which was made possible by the generous financial support of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, the MDRT Foundation, LIDMA, and NAHU Foundation.
Life Happens will accept submissions for the 2015 Life Lessons Scholarship Program starting February 2, 2015 through March 2, 2015.
To make an individual, tax-deductible donation to help fund the Life Lessons Scholarship Program, visit www.lifehappens.org/donate.
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.
CONTACT: Arielle Patrick, 212.445.8470
SOURCE Life Happens