For DonorsFor Applicants

Sharra Rainbolt Memorial Scholarship

2 winners, $2,500 each
Application Deadline
May 31, 2024
Winners Announced
Jul 1, 2024
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate, graduate or trade school student
Personal experience with cancer

A cancer diagnosis can be a life-shattering experience for the person involved and their family.

In addition to the emotional turmoil of battling cancer or watching a loved one struggle with it, funding years of treatments comes at great expense, often leaving little money for financing a college education. As a result, it can be difficult for students who have been touched by cancer to continue pursuing their academic dreams.

This scholarship seeks to support students who have been personally impacted by cancer so they can continue working toward their dreams.

Any undergraduate, graduate or trade school student who has personally had cancer or has an immediate family member who has battled cancer may apply for this scholarship opportunity.

To apply, tell us how your family has been impacted by cancer and what this experience has taught you.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published February 21, 2024
Essay Topic

How has your family been affected by cancer and what have you learned through that experience?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Wendy Parcel
University of New Hampshire-Main CampusHooksett, NH
February 2nd of this year marked the one year anniversary of my father’s death. He was completely healthy, and then suddenly, he wasn’t. This horrid day changed my life. After a seemingly random seizure, doctors found a tumor in my father’s brain. They were lucky, they assured us. They found it early and it was small, it would be gone in no time. He was getting better. No time became months. Months of my father losing his mobility. Months of my father losing his brain and his memories. One day I came home from school, telling him how much I missed him. He asked me who I was. He didn’t remember his own daughter’s face. That’s when I knew it was over. I started mourning my father’s death from this cancer months before he died. His final days were the hardest. There was a hospital bed in our living room, and my father never parted from it. I didn’t want to be near him, all he did was yell. I’d come to regret that. One day, I woke up to nurses in my house. They looked at me and my brother solemnly as they spoke to my mother in hushed voices. Our father lay there, breathing laboriously on that ugly hospital bed. We already assumed so, but our mother told us today would be my father’s last day. I didn’t cry. Not then. I left the room to assemble my clarinet, rushing back in as quick as I could. Then I played. I played two pieces I would be using to audition into music school the very next day. He listened, or I hope he did. As I put my clarinet down, I could hear his breathing stop. It was kind of poetic. The last thing my father ever heard was my music. Since my father’s death from brain cancer, my family’s dynamic hasn’t been the same. We fight more, and money has become more of a struggle. We don’t have anyone to cuddle up to on the couch anymore, holding us together like a comfortable glue. Now we stray apart, sitting on opposite ends as we do our own thing. Now that it’s been a year of this, I don’t think our dynamic ever will be the same, but that’s okay. Everything in life is fleeting, including life itself. If you try to hold on too tight, you’ll hurt yourself. My whole family hurt itself, clinging onto my father’s death, hoping that some way, he would come back. I still wish he would. My father’s cancer, and subsequently, his death, taught me to let go and to live my life to the fullest. You’ll never know what’s going to happen next, so you should be living every day like it’s your last. My brother, my mother, and I, are all subscribing to this now that the dust has settled. Now that I am an undergraduate, I am currently working on a piece of musical composition to memorialize my father that I hope to have performed professionally. It is to combine the rhythm of the heartbeats of my mother, my brother, me, and most importantly, my late father. Already, this piece is bringing us closer together, as we can hear our very beat of life played together in beautiful harmony. It came full circle; Music is what is bringing us together. Maybe my family’s dynamic will be different because of the absence of my father, but different isn’t bad. My father would be proud of us for learning so much from him and creating our new and blossoming family dynamic.
Taylor Adams
Western Illinois UniversityMacomb, IL
My goal has always been to learn from every possible source, while also assisting those who are in need of someone to advocate for them. However, I have recently run out of funding with three semesters left. I have no savings, no job and not much hope at the moment. My fiancé who has been the main breadwinner for nearly 18 years now currently has brain cancer. He is still working 50+ hours a week even though we know it’s not sustainable, but we need the money. He went through brain surgery nearly a year and a half ago, and unfortunately the tumors are growing back. I need to finish my degree/s so that I can work at a job that offers insurance. That pays somewhat comparative to his job. That we can both survive on. Because eventually he will not be able to work. If I am not able to find meaningful employment by then we will be in a world of trouble. His parents, and most of his close family, are no longer living. While mine are here, but they continue to disappoint even during a crisis of this nature. My fiancé was a writer, an alumni of Western even. But the tumor was in his speech and language areas. Amazingly he was awake through the procedure, telling them all about his book he’s writing. Since the surgery he’s had mild cognitive issues that affect his ability to write, to do what he loves, and it’s devastating. We wanted to travel, we wanted to have adventures, I had just started planning our wedding- but there isn’t time or money for that anymore. My experience with all of this is so difficult to explain this experience to anyone other than someone who has gone through it themselves. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but we are doing the best we can. Even when we’re both terrified. Right now all I can do is focus on doing the best I can in school so that I can provide for us if or when it comes to that. Beyond that he’s said he wants to know I can take care of myself when he’s gone and by going to school and doing so well he feels less scared for at least that small part of our lives. I have learned how to be stronger than I thought I ever could be, I’ve learned to hide my tears, I’ve learned that every moment with him is so important. I’ve learned who my true friends are, and which family members are truly there for us. But I think most of all I’ve learned how much I love him, how much I want to be with him, and just how devastating the idea of us not growing old together is.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 31, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jul 1, 2024.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now