Profiles in Perseverance
Scholarships Help When a Parent is Injured or Killed on the Job
Most teens struggle with their after high school decisions. Add a parent’s serious injury or sudden death in the workplace, and it’s easy to imagine a young adult’s world turning upside down.
Technological and mechanical advancements have decreased serious workplace accidents or deaths over the years. However, these accidents still occur and often put a family’s strength and finances to the test.
Kids' Chance of America, a national nonprofit, provides educational opportunities and scholarships to the children of workers seriously injured or killed on the job. This support can make all the difference.
Moving Forward and Giving Back
Tressa and Mikaela both lost a parent at the age of 17. Tressa lost her mom and Mikaela lost her dad – both to vehicle crashes while on the job.
The youngest of three sisters, Mikaela was halfway through her senior year when her dad was rear-ended by a semi-truck. He was rushed to the hospital in St. Cloud, MN, and passed away three days later.
Knowing how important her going to college was to her parents, Mikaela found the strength to continue. She already had an interest in becoming a nurse and wanted to pursue that passion.
A counselor provided Mikaela with a SFM Foundation scholarship application. Supported by State Farm, SFM is a Kids Chance affiliate in the upper Midwest. It was a bittersweet fit for Mikaela’s university needs.
Mikaela applied for the scholarship and was awarded support each year until her college graduation in 2014. She now works as a nurse in the ICU where her father was cared for during his last days.
“It feels good to be there working with the people who were so compassionate to my family,” Mikaela said.
Tressa’s mom passed away five and a half years ago while taking employee mail across the street during a work day. She was hit by a car that didn’t see her. Tressa was also the youngest child and had always planned to go to college.
“Not going to school didn’t cross my mind. I was in shock and the best thing to do was to just keep going,” Tressa said.
She received a scholarship through the SFM Foundation and went to college to become a teacher. She will begin her career as a teacher this fall.
Gratitude Fuels their Future
Both women are grateful for the support from the SFM Foundation. It was instrumental to them persevering and achieving their goals. They want to share the wisdom developed from their experiences to help others. They plan to do so through their professional roles and in service to the foundation.
“It’s so rewarding to develop relationships with my students and make a difference in their lives,” Tressa said. “No matter what happens outside of school, they know they can come to school to be safe and feel loved.”
Mikaela’s experiences have helped her relate to families who visit the ICU. She draws upon her own past to provide the patient- and family-centered care that adds comfort during tough times.
Mikaela has also joined the board of directors for SFM Foundation. She wants to help spread the word about the youth scholarship opportunity. She’s advising the organization on new avenues to reach others facing similar circumstances. In fact, she’s recommended hospitals as a place to share information about the available scholarships.
These young women have overcome much and are grateful for the support received. They persevered, have successfully started meaningful careers and are now stronger adults. They are sharing their stories and giving back to their communities as an example for others.
(For an interactive version of the map below showing scholarship affiliates and contact details, click on the image or the related link in the left navigation bar.)