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Tim Watabe Memorial Scholarship

1 winner$625
Application Deadline
Apr 16, 2024
Winners Announced
May 16, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school, undergraduate, or graduate student
Has lost a parent

Tim Watabe was a caring individual who left a great impact on his community. 

Tim always used his resources to help young men embark on difficult journeys and succeed in the face of struggles. He motivated many in their pursuit of success, leaving his mark on all he encountered. Tim’s life brought immense positivity into the world. 

This scholarship seeks to honor the life of Tim Watabe by supporting students who have overcome their own hardships associated with the death of a parent or guardian and now intend to make the world a better place. 

Any high school, undergraduate, or graduate student who has lost a parent or guardian may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, tell us about how the death of your parent or guardian has impacted your life, how you have been resilient following this loss, and how learning to face difficult things has impacted your relationships.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published December 12, 2023
Essay Topic

To apply, please tell us about how the death of your parent or guardian has affected your life and how you have been able to be resilient in the face of losing a parent. Additionally, how has learning to face hard things impacted your relationships?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Melissa Kulenski
Kutztown University of PennsylvaniaMORRISVILLE, PA
How many 30-year-olds can say, “My parents died a year apart”? It’s a statistical lottery I never entered nor wanted to win. My mother died of a heart attack in April 2020, followed by my father dying of the same ailment not long after in 2021. They were married for over 40 years. They were also my whole world. It’s a nightmare I could not and cannot wake up from. Watching them lie motionless on their deathbeds in the same hospital—a year a part—has fundamentally changed my view of life. Of people. Of existence. Before their losses, I was ironically more fragile and unforgiving. I’d be perturbed for weeks by a mere dental crown or mechanic visit for my car. Negativity and cynicism were my best friends. Never before had I encountered an “unfixable” problem. All things were fixable, and former me saw all things as problems. Then suddenly, I was faced with a most profound dilemma that blew any previous problem out of the water: Discerning what to write on my parent’s gravestones. Etched stone words that will survive well past their human years… and mine. How can a daughter plan her parent’s funerals, let alone stomach such an eternal decision? I was humbled. The permanency of death slapped me sideways. It allowed me to zoom out of my main character syndrome and place the world into perspective. The loss swirling all around me was suddenly magnified in a way I wasn’t fully unconscious of before. I’d seen other people’s loss — but did I really listen? Did I truly empathize? Now, I could. I had ears to listen to both Earth’s griefs and joys. Now, I can see that not everything is a problem. Many things I’d faced pre-parental-deaths were “fixable” inconveniences at best. Glasses became half full, and more importantly, I’m strong enough to fill them higher. Somehow I had obtained newfound permission to take charge of my own life. Even further, I was faced with a startling realization: At the end of people’s lives, they will all look like my parents did on their death bed. Motionless. Vulnerable. I must treat every person with the compassion that they deserve to be treated with on their last waking day on Earth. I must also live my life in such a way that I possess the least amount of regrets possible. That’s why I‘ve unleashed my inner tenacity these past few years and made a commitment to follow my dreams in their honor. Since their deaths, my wife and I became foster parents to two teenagers. I’ve visited Disney World for the first time in my life. I’ve painted my hair my favorite color (pink), gotten a Pokémon tattoo I’ve always wanted, rescued more dogs, volunteered in a variety of nonprofit organizations, and am working in a field I’m passionate about as a therapist for youth. Finally, I finished my Master’s of Social Work degree at Aurora University with a 4.0 GPA in 2022 and was accepted into the Doctorate of Social Work program at Kutztown University. As a first-generation college graduate, I know my parents are smiling in Heaven. My goal after finishing my Doctorate is to start a nonprofit organization providing affordable mental health and social services to local LGBTQ+ youth — showing them how they can also find community, resilience, and hope in the face of life’s “unfixable problems.” Rest in peace, Mom and Dad. You’d both be so proud.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 16, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 16, 2024.

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