Hello, my name is Gandhi Vidals-Veliz. I graduated from Camden County College and currently attending Rutgers majoring in nursing. I have a huge interest with technology and science because I’m fascinated of how things work and I also have an interest in the medical field.
In the evening of March 29, I arrived home from school as usual and found my dad usually sleeping since he works all night. An hour later he woke up and got ready to go to work and right before he would leave, my sister and I always hugged him and said goodbye, and he would say the same thing back to us and adding in “take care of yourselves.” or “Be good to your mother and sister ok”? Around 11:00 P.M my mother received a call from her brother, who always works with my dad, saying that he didn’t arrive at the factory where both my dad and uncle were supposed to be working in PA. He also said that there were police a few blocks from the factory. Unfortunately, my uncle called back and said that my father had been in an accident and my father’s car was completely destroyed and wrapped around a telephone pole. My uncle asked the police the location of my father and was told that the paramedics had already taken him. But the police told my uncle what the paramedics had told them, that he was already dead from receiving a blunt force trauma to the head when a young male driver who was under the influence of alcohol and going 70 mph in a large SUV hit the back of my father’s car with full force, instantly killing him. Losing my father was the worst feeling that me and my family could ever experience because my father was the best father anyone could have asked for. He never drank, smoked, or punished us for no reason. He was a great person with a great personality. His death had a tremendous impact to our lives, especially my mother. He was a great role model for me and an inspiration and it made me who I am today. But with my dad gone, I had to take the responsibility of being the man of the house and taking care of my mother and sister. This also put a huge financial burden on my mom to carry. She was working 3 times a day for low wages and when she was fired for personal reasons she had to get another full-time job just to pay off the rent and our bills since my dad was the main income of the family.
Receiving the Ted Smyk Memorial and KCNJ Scholarship means a lot to my family and me. It has lifted some weight from my mother’s shoulders and I can go to college without the worry of paying tuition with the money left over from my dad’s worker’s compensation settlement. This will help me to continue my education to achieve my goals because I promised my father that I would do my best to keep studying hard no matter the hardships that occur and make him proud. He couldn’t go to college because he had to find a job right away to support my mother and I. He didn’t want me to end up like him-not being able to finish my education and be forced to work at low-wage job. I will be forever grateful to Kids’ Chance of New Jersey for making it possible for me to continue studying.