Makiyah Baptiste lost her mother but found her calling.

My father died when I was young. I don’t often talk about it, because it’s painful. Perhaps that’s why I admire 21-year-old Makiyah Baptiste. The New Jersey native was only 11 when her mother died under circumstances she still is unclear about.

“Until this day, the cause of my mother’s death remains a mystery to me,” Makiyah says. “The autopsy suggests that it was a homicide. Other witnesses proposed my mother committing suicide.”

Knowing the pain that comes from dredging up such memories, I didn’t ask her for more details. I was more interested in her future than her past. That future is so bright, Makiyah is the latest winner of the bimonthly Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants.

“The cause of my mother’s death often left me conflicted,” Makiyah says. She turned that inner conflict into a career choice.

“During my times in solitude, I discovered a profound interest in medical examination and forensic pathology,” she says. “I was fascinated in the work that medical examiners did — and how they brought peace to families who had lost a loved one in a tragic way. Even though my family was not able to get such closure from my mother’s death, I felt an urge to want to bring peace to other hurting families.”

Her grandparents have raised Makiyah and her brother for the past 13 years, but that hasn’t distracted her: She’s in the top 2 percent of her class. She’s also won 10 scholarships – after applying for more than she can recall.

“I feel that applying for scholarships is a part-time job if you dedicate the right amount of time to it,” she says. “There’s no shame in being rewarded for the time that you put into any job.”

When I asked Makiyah how she managed to overcome the death of her mother, her reply moved me. It’s worth quoting at length…

To be exactly honest, I’m not sure if I have overcome the death of my mother. I’m not even sure if anyone really does overcome these kinds of things. There are days when I’m great and I’m so thankful for everything that I have – and others where I feel really low. I manage most when I accept the fact that things happen for a reason, and while we may not agree with the way in which they happen, it is up to us to determine whether or not we want to carry that burden. My mother’s death is definitely still a learning process for me and I try not to focus on all that I’ve lost and direct my focus on all that I’ve gained.

Makiyah is wise beyond her years, and I have no doubt she’ll become an excellent medical examiner. I’m proud we can reward her with $500.

You don’t need such a tragic tale to win the Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants, but you do need to possess Makiyah’s drive and determination – and you need to apply for a lot of scholarships. You don’t need to win any, because that’s not within your control. However, applying is within your control. Do that, and apply here, and you have a shot at $500.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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