Rachel Widing received the gift of time to focus on school, family and opportunity to succeed.
As a senior in high school, I did not know what I wanted to do with my future, but there were a couple of things that I knew for sure.
First, I knew that I needed and wanted to stay close to home. My siblings are spectacular people, as are our parents who raised us, giving us the most love and support in the world. I couldn’t imagine experiencing life without them. At the time I was also caring for my grandmother who had been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, and I knew that continuing to do so would become more challenging once I started college.
I also knew that college is expensive. Like many college students, I was going to have to get a job and take out loans to pay for school. But how was I going to be a full-time student, full-time caregiver and work all at the same time?
A few weeks after high school graduation, I received a letter informing me that I had been chosen as a recipient of the DeShane Wilson Scholarship: renewable for four years between Clackamas Community College and Portland State University. At that moment I knew that a huge burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. However I didn’t know just how much it would impact my life.
Because of this scholarship, I was able to focus on school. I am now graduating with honors from Portland State next week with a bachelor’s degree and two majors in the health field: community health education and aging services. I am also proud and grateful to say that I will be graduating debt free. But this is all because I was able to dedicate myself to studying and to my education.
This scholarship also gave me the gift of time. Over the last four years, I have made countless memories with the people I love most while staying close to home. My grandmother passed away this February. Fortunately, I was able to remain her primary caretaker up until the last few weeks of her life and hold onto those precious moments; something that could never be replaced and something that could not have been accomplished without the generosity of Michael DeShane and Keren Wilson.
I have been beyond blessed to have been awarded such an amazing scholarship and opportunity to succeed. My family and I could not be any more thankful for Michael and Keren and everything that they do. It is because of Michael and Keren that individuals like myself get the chance to follow their passions and dream a little bigger. The first time I met them, I could feel the love that they have for people in general and as I have gotten to know them over the years, I have seen their passion for improving lives. They are so inspiring and truly selfless. I know that what I have accomplished since opening that letter would have been impossible without them. Not only have they supported me financially, but they have always believed in me. In the future, I plan to pay forward the generosity and love that has so graciously been given to me. As I achieve my goals, I will never forget to whom I owe my success.