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Heather Benefield Memorial Scholarship

Funded by
user profile avatar
Courtney Jenkins
2 winners, $525 each
Application Deadline
Apr 30, 2022
Winners Announced
May 30, 2022
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Must have lost at least one parent
Education Level:
Must be an undergraduate student

Heather Benefield was a woman who encompassed all the wonderful things the world has to offer and all the wonderful things that the world needs more of. She was a friend, a listener, an adventurer, and courageous. She was a loving mom and her daughter’s best friend. 

On March 11th, 2020, Heather Benefield’s life was taken from her in an act of domestic violence, leaving behind her 21-year-old daughter, Courtney Jenkins. 

Losing a parent can be devastating and can make it difficult to focus on your education or other responsibilities. In order to keep going, it’s critical that students who have lost their parents receive extra encouragement when pursuing higher education.

This memorial scholarship seeks to support undergraduate students who have lost a parent so they can persevere through the loss and complete their education.  

Any current undergraduate student who has lost a parent may apply for this scholarship opportunity. 

To apply, tell us what you learned from the parent you lost and how that loss has impacted your understanding of the world.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published January 7, 2022
Essay Topic

What did you learn from the parent(s) you lost, and how has that shaped your way of being or understanding of the world?

300–400 words

Winning Applications

Alyssa Bungcayao
Grossmont CollegeChula Vista, CA
August 30, 2021 is a day I will never forget. I am walking out of my first nursing school exam feeling disheartened and second guessing my decision of pursuing nursing as a second career. When I get home, I immediately call my father who is currently in the hospital, but is expected to be discharged. I tell him about how awful I felt after my first nursing exam, and he asked me if nursing school was fun. I laugh, and remember that he's proud of me and that him getting hospitalized five years ago is the reason I pursued nursing. I check my grade and am ecstatic with the result. I call my father again, no answer, he must be sleeping. A few hours later, I receive a disturbing call saying they did everything they could. My father died from cardiac arrest that evening. I have never been so devastated in my life. My father touched the lives of all those who knew him. He was a man of very few words, but if there is anything we remember most about him, it's his infectious laugh and smile. He lived his life exactly the way he wanted to, having fun and spreading joy along the way. Despite having several debilitating medical conditions, he was the most positive person I have ever known. He is light in human form. When I lived back home with my parents, we would go on adventures nearly every weekend. We frequently visited the beach and spent countless hours driving up and down California's breathtaking coastal highway. I vividly remember my father grabbing his keys and coffee and saying he'll wait in the car as soon as we named a place we wanted to go. My father taught me that the world was mine to explore, and that the possibilities were infinite. Losing him shaped my way of being by remembering that we were put on this earth to live the lives we've always wanted. I could have taken a break from school, but I knew in my heart that my father would not have wanted me to quit considering the journey it took for me to get there. After the funeral, I channeled my energy into finishing my semester strong. I learned that grief is love disguised in another form, and that all that he taught me will live on in this world through me.
Vivian Glaze
The University of Texas at AustinSeagoville, TX
The world sucks sometimes. Literally, it sucks out good people worthy of life at unexpected moments, unapathetic towards the people grieving that loss and needing the time to process. It sucks and sucks and keeps revolving around the sun, even if you're not ready for the next day, week, month, or year. My father was unexpectedly sucked up by the universe in February 2021. He wasn't physically sick, and he was not finished with life. I was only a high school senior, attending classes virtually, applying to colleges, and preparing to graduate in a few months in the midst of a pandemic, ironically not being related to his cause of death. My father was a simple man. He had little family, family that cared about him at least, and had a tiny studio apartment with a job making about $35,000 per year. But he had two children, musically involved, making good grades in school, and looking forward to an enriching life and to ultimately give back to their father one day. At first, I could not envision a future for myself. As acceptance and rejection letters rolled in, my senior prom nearing, and finals approaching, I struggled to find the meaning of life. Questions were playing ping pong in my brain with what-if scenarios and rhetorical questions such as why should I go to college if everyone inevitably dies one day, and why do bad things happen to good people? Plagued with my thoughts, I realized that my younger brother was spiraling. I had to get out of bed, go back to school, choose a good college and continue my life. I called my high school and told them I was coming back, I bought a prom dress, I signed my acceptance of enrollment for the University of Texas in Austin, began therapy, and I started to breathe again. Being a role model for my brother got me out of my funk, but my future was foggy and I still had no answers. About a year has passed and I have come to a conclusion about my future and why the world sucks. It comes down to time is not a luxury. The resource in which no one is guaranteed but most people would fight for, even to their end, is ironically never won. However, it has pushed me, in more ways than providing for my father one day, to lead a driven, motivating, and enriching life. Life waits on no one and you have to play the cards you’ve been dealt. Whether you live to 49 like my father, 99 like Betty White, or 122 like Jeanne Calment, you have to live life for each day and it is only up to you to make your life memorable and/or enriching, however you may choose to do so. I have learned that every day counts, and I have had to live each day consciously knowing that if I go tomorrow, I am okay with the legacy I leave behind, in hopes of building on that legacy each and every day I am gifted with more time. I am a great student who made all A's in her first semester in college. I am an amazing sister and daughter who has given her family someone to be grateful for. I am a good girlfriend who supports and loves her partner unconditionally. I am a good person, providing for my community whenever possible. And I will continue to live as great as I possibly can until my time comes to a close, and the world sucks me up too.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 30, 2022. Winners will be announced on May 30, 2022.

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