This story was submitted to us by Roxzy Mabry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I am a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am currently working towards a bachelor of science in Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish.

According to my mother, I had only one option after high school and that was to go to college and get my degree. I was raised by a single mother who worked full time and put herself through college in order to achieve a better life for my sister and me. I can still remember watching my mother walking across the stage to receive her diploma with Master’s of Computer Science written across the top. It was my mother’s dream to see me graduate from a University, so that I would not have to undergo the struggle that she had endured.

In April 2004, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and instantly our world had taken a dark turn. For two months, I watched my mother deteriorate to the point where she was unable to speak. I remember the pain in her eyes in not knowing what would be in store for my sister and me. I was angry because I could not understand how my mother could have worked so hard, for her life to be cut so short. In June, I found myself saying goodbye to both my mother and our home in California.

As a sophomore in high school, I adjusted to life in Illinois while still keeping focus on my academic goals. I wanted nothing more than to fulfill my mother’s wishes for me to be the best student that I could be. However, when it came time to looking at University costs, financially I was at a loss. I am not the traditional student in having the emotional or financial support of a mother or a father. Senior year, however, I was accepted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the support I received through the Pell Grant and other sources offered me the financial assistance needed to fill the financial void standing between me and my entry into the University. My mother would be incredibly grateful, as am I, for the opportunity that it has given me. If it weren’t for the Pell Grant and other financial support, I don’t believe the University of Illinois would have been as feasible otherwise.

The Pell grant and other scholarships offered to me helped so much in regards to my development as a student, as well as to reinforce my dream of becoming a health care provider. In May 2009, with financial assistance, I was able to undergo a medical brigade to Honduras. The brigade allowed me to travel between communities that lack multi medical services and work alongside doctors to diagnose patients and prescribe medications.

After my trip to Honduras, I realized my passion for the less fortunate and giving them the best quality of healthcare possible. I have seen, firsthand, the effects of illness and disease, which has enhanced my desire to aid future patients and their medical needs. Next fall, I plan to attend graduate school in order to become a physician’s assistant where I will acquire the necessary skills to achieve that mission.

Although, I am not the traditional student, I am forever grateful to have the financial support I received. It alleviated my financial burden of college tuition and provided me the opportunity to complete my bachelors at the University of Illinois in four years.

This not only fulfills my dream but my mother’s as well. I know she would be so grateful for the generosity and so very proud of me for all that I have accomplished.

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