Scholarship and success: Caileigh Keegan to receive Living with Loss semifinalist award

When we announced the Living with Loss scholarship, we were confident that it would draw attention from very qualified students; however, we anticipated neither the volume nor quality of applicants we were tasked with sorting. We were fortunate to receive applications from numerous talented scholars with endorsements from mentors and stories of persevering through loss.

Indeed, the selection process was significantly more arduous than anticipated. In the end, we’d settled on our finalist and considered the process complete. That is, until we read Caileigh Keegan’s application.

Caileigh lost her mother to a rare form of cancer at an early age, after a spirited, five-year fight. Caileigh’s father reduced his professional availability in order to increase his presence in the lives of his three children, of whom Caileigh is the oldest. Recognizing the challenges her father faces as a single parent, she notes in her essay that all three children will be in college at the same time. Perfect Memorials is honored to contribute to her education in light of this financial need.

We considered several key elements when selecting our recipient: academic record, letters of recommendation, and an essay on how living with a personal loss has affected the student’s plans. It was a tied vote that came down to a runoff vote for the finalist, and in the end we felt so strongly about the merits of each candidate that we decided to issue a semifinalist award at the last minute.

Described by a teacher as “goal-oriented, hardworking, and thoughtful”, Caileigh graduated from Bishop O’Connell High School this year, and will attend North Carolina State University in the fall. She’s excelled in her extracurricular activities, earning honors and demonstrating leadership.

She’s worked a part-time job for four years and still maintained a stellar GPA; we also noted that while her grades were commendable in her early years, she took on an increasingly challenging course load and not only maintained but improved her performance in AP and college courses.

“I recall being concerned about how much Caileigh’s path had just been forever altered, worrying about how soon she was going to have to grapple with the additional responsibilities that would be coming,” said family friend and CEO of the company Caileigh works for, Gloria Rodriguez.

“But, through it all, Caileigh has been about moving forward.” And in recognition of Caileigh’s academic excellence and resilience, we are beyond pleased to present an additional scholarship award.


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