A Life Lost, His Education Saved
Meet Thomas Schroeder, '09
We all have a person in our lives that we believe we could not live without. For me, that person was my father. He was the first person I would go to with my joys and sorrows, accomplishments and troubles. He was the greatest influence in my life.
My father was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was thirteen years old. Though this caused him a great deal of pain, he always stayed strong for the sake of my family. In November of 2006, at the age 55, my dad suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack brought on by the disease. I felt lost. My father – mentor, role-model, my greatest influence – was gone.
To make ends meet, my mom worked a part-time job in addition to her full-time job; there were funeral expenses, and my brother Phil and I still needed her support to get through college. In addition, my dad’s juvenile diabetes meant that he had essentially no life insurance. My family’s financial situation after his death was a mess, to say the least.
I contemplated living at home, taking classes at the local junior college, and working full-time in order to ease my family’s financial burdens. Before I could even complete the paperwork, Illinois Wesleyan sent me a revised financial aid statement that included a grant from the IWU Parent Association. My tuition and fees were covered. I will not forget the combination of happiness and relief I felt at that moment; it nearly brought me to tears.
To lose my dad so suddenly and without warning is undoubtedly the hardest thing I will ever face in my life. At the same time, the chance to stay here and graduate from this wonderful institution is among the best gifts I will ever receive. Through families like yours who support the Parent Fund, my education here has been made possible. For that, I am forever grateful.
Thomas Schroeder, '09
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