Life Happens (formerly the LIFE Foundation) is a nonprofit organization well known for its dedication to helping consumers make insurance decisions to safeguard their assets and provide for their loved ones after death. The organization also sponsors the annual LIFE Lessons Scholarship Program for college students and college-bound high school seniors who have lost a parent or guardian and are struggling to pay for their education.
I learned about this scholarship not long after starting my post at NUL, almost one year ago. I thought, “What a great thing this organization is doing for these young adults whose life was changed so drastically before many of them were even adults.” I also thought, “How can you judge one person’s story of loss against another? Who’s to say that this grieving person deserves more than that grieving person?” It seemed like a gargantuan, difficult decision.
And then I was asked to make that judgment.
I accepted the offer to become a judge of the LIFE Lessons Scholarship applications, of course, out of my utmost respect for Life Happens and what they stand for. But I knew this task would not be a quick and easy volunteer assignment. I knew it would be emotionally rough. And it has been.
I am only able to read about three to four application essays at a time. I often have to take breaks in the middle of these 500-word narratives. I’ve anguished over how to score such stories. I’ve cried at my desk.
And I’m only half way through the list of 50 essays.