Published in Scholarship Winner by Chris Eskew on October 18, 2023.

Brandon Ray
University of Kentucky

Scholarship Essay

I grew up with a father who spent time in and out of prison. His lifestyle revolved around stealing as a way to support his drug addiction. He was sentenced to several years in prison throughout my early childhood which ultimately led to him disappearing from the picture completely. At first, I let these circumstances shape my outlook on life. I often found myself with little to no motivation when completing every day tasks. I felt as though the path set before me was going to be my destiny too. However, when seeing the example set forth by my father, it made me realize that it was in my power to create the change I desperately desired.

My name is Brandon Ray, and I was challenged at an early age by having a dad who was a convicted felon. Although you may think that this would only negatively affect my life, the lack of a father has prompted the development of personal independence. My mom has battled an addiction to drugs and alcohol my whole life, resulting in my grandmother adopting the role as my main caregiver.  The burden of not having the prototypical set of parents has left a void in my life; one I have filled with the drive to perform at the highest level in all I do, whether on the basketball court, in the workplace, or as a citizen. I have learned to never give up on something that I want. Additionally, my circumstances have shaped the way I will parent my future children, as I want to provide them with a better start. 

I have learned that I need not repeat the patterns of failure, prison time, and addiction set forth by my parents. I have learned everything that I do not want my future children to experience and will continually strive to be the best parent figure I can be, when the time comes. Instead, I have resolved to set my own path toward a life of success, hard work, and service to others. In reflection, I have grown thankful for all the hardships, along with the fortuitous things that have happened in my life. If I could give anyone advice, I would say this: Do not let your home life stop you from reaching your full potential. Instead of wishing for change, go create it. To further my story, I am attending the University of Kentucky this fall as a Marketing major with a Master’s in Sports Leadership. Sports have been my greatest passion and given me a safetynet amidst the daily stresses of life. My hopes are to ultimately become an athletic director at a division one university. Overall, my goal is to create a new slate of opportunities in my life through perseverance and determination that will allow me to reach my dreams. I will break the cycle.

Author Photo
Chris Eskew

Chris Eskew is the founding partner of Eskew Law. With over 15 years of experience, he focuses his practice on criminal defense, DUI defense, and family law. Chris is known for his dedication to his clients, his strong advocacy skills, and his commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes in legal matters. He is well-respected within the legal community and has earned a reputation for providing personalized and effective representation.