I Have Worked With An Unbreakable Will
May 16, 2017
The Children's Foundation Scholarships Program is the (graduating) cap of our support for local kids; a culmination of providing them with the tools they need to be nourished, educated, active, creative and filled with hope for the future. What makes our scholarships so unique is that the criteria does not focus solely on academic standing but rather on achievements in the face of difficult life situations. Here is just one story sent to us last year from Sam* in his own words, which exemplifies the resiliency and fortitude of our scholarship recipients.
"I come from a low income family so things have always been hard but it's not too bad. My family and I have always found a way to solve our problems by supporting each other. I live with my mother, who is a single parent raising four children. My parents got divorced when I was in grade 3. For many years, there was a lot of fighting between my parents and at times I was asked to pick sides and it was a very hard time in my life; I felt conflicted, confused and lost. My relationship with my father is complicated. My father always criticized, judged, or put me down for my choices, interests, and who I was as a person. At one point, my father saw me as a loser and doubted I would ever get into university.
Ever since I was a young child, I was considered an "odd person" or "socially awkward" because I think differently than most kids. Growing up, I never really found any friends. When I started grade 7, I thought I would find friends but instead I was severely bullied for two years. I was the target for jokes, verbal insults, and physical attacks by my classmates. During these years I thought I was going to lose my mind but luckily I managed to go on an exchange trip to France for most of grade 8 (funded by myself by working three paper routes). In high school, I finally stood my ground to bullies and I am looking forward to university and expect it to be much better than high school.
Financially, I have been very single-minded about taking care of myself. My mother works two jobs. I have had to pay for most things by myself. In grade 9, I was able to get a job working as a custodian with the local public schools. For the past five years, each school day I wake up at 6 am, go to work for 7 am until 8:30, go to school, go back to work, and come home around 6 pm. I repeat this schedule every day, and work additional hours in the summer and during school breaks. I work an average of 20 hours per week while balancing time for school and school sports. Last year, money was running out and my family almost lost our house. I loaned my mother money to allow her to keep the house.
When I was little, I was told by my mother to be successful in life so I wouldn't have to endure the hardships she faced. Knowing the harsh reality of living with almost no money, I have worked hard to be prepared for the future; the only way to achieve anything is through hard work and determination. My mother is the one person who always believed in me even when I was at my lowest. The most precious thing my mother gave me was the strong drive to endure challenges and focus on my goals.
The most difficult part of my story to tell happened during grade 12. My grades dropped from 80's to 60's to 50's. I was not doing my homework, I was skipping school, and I was stressed byeond belief. I felt isolated, cold and alone with no place to go. I developed a video game addiction which almost cost me my future. This was the darkest point in my life and I truly despaired as I saw the world as a gloomy place. I walked around in a husk of an empty person. I truly wished I could escape.
One day, I realized that I hated the person I had become. I searched deep inside myself and discovered who I am as a person and my reason for living. I didn't like feeling like a failure so I went to my teachers, family, boss and guidance counsellor to help me find the right path. Each day for the past year, as I have completed my grade 12 "do-over", I have worked with an unbreakable will. I have raised my almost-failing grades to straight 90's and re-discovered my passion for learning."
We reached out to Sam to see how things were going and for his permission to tell his inspiring story. We are pleased to hear he is doing well and this is what his guidance teacher wrote:
"Sam is doing VERY well at University. He loves studying physics at university and sees himself doing both his Masters and PHD eventually. He shines brightly talking about how awesome it will be to work as a prof doing research and wearing a lab coat to teach!! He is a neat kid. This story is especially touching knowing he paid for his own wants and needs growing up, working as a janitor in an elementary school. He is an incredible young man."
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.