The 2021 Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship received many impressive essays from students whose lives have been seriously impacted by an auto accident. Entries came from across the country with students sharing how they have been personally and significantly affected by an accident and how they have overcome the struggles associated with the accident.
Because of the number of remarkable essays we received, The Derrick Law Firm has selected three winners for the 2021 scholarship.
Read our 2021 Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship Winner, Estevan Hernandez's story below:
"When I was 3, my family was hit by a drunk driver. It killed my mom instantly, put my brother in a coma, shattered my leg, and pushed my dad into a deep depression. That day set the path for the rest of my life.
My dad had to work longer hours and move more to provide for us. We lived in poverty, and I moved schools 13 times before graduating high school. My dad was a migrant field worker with a middle school education. I went everywhere with him; he was my best friend. He died when I was 10 in a single car accident; it wasn’t enough for one of my parents to be ejected through a windshield, but both in separate incidents. I had never felt so alone after my dad passed. I was an orphan. Survival became my driving force.
My brother and I were taken in by my aunt, but she had her own kids to worry about. At one point there were 13 people living in a double wide trailer. I didn’t have my own room or even a bed. I slept in a chair or on the floor in the mud room. Any money I made from work went to my guardians to help pay the bills. I was even encouraged to drop out of school at one point to help my family financially. Then, to make things even worse, our house burnt down and the few items I had in my possession were lost.
I have taken a number of steps to make my professional goal a reality. I started by applying to be a substitute para educator at the same middle school I was attending when my father died. This will allow me to gain experience in the classroom because I work directly with students, particularly those with limited English skills. My current employment is aligned with my career goal of becoming an elementary teacher; I am now a full-time para educator working every day with students, though the pay is well below the poverty line. Ideally, once I become a teacher, I will continue with my formal education by working towards my Master’s degree. I used to think about ‘what ifs’ often. And then I became a parent and the ‘what ifs’ turned to ‘here and now’. I realized I had to do better for my two daughters, and that college would be the way to do that.
I am already a first-generation college student and successfully completed my first semester at Western Governors University. My primary educational goal is to graduate in October of 2023 with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. I have already moved my original graduation date six months earlier by completing 25 credits in one semester. Education is my main focus now that I have matured and experienced more of life. By continuing my education, I will continue to open doors and opportunities so I can grow as a learner and as an educator. I never realized how limited I was until I pushed myself to go back to school and start all over again. It is important to me for little boys to see someone that looks like them as their teacher and coach. Education will give me that mobility to achieve these aspirations."
For more information about the Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship, please see www.derricklawfirm.com/scholarship.