Maricel Lisan is gone, but her family has made sure she’s not forgotten.
Maples Collegiate presented the inaugural Maricel Lisan Memorial Scholarship to graduate Wandaly Gonzales during the school’s convocation ceremony on June 26 at Centennial Concert Hall.
The scholarship, worth $1,000, was initiated by Maricel’s sister-in-law Alexzandra Dela Cruz, who’s married to Maricel’s brother, Michael. Maricel, who graduated from Maples in 2000, died in 2010 of end-stage renal disease. Maricel was 29 years old.
Dela Cruz, an Amber Trails resident, said the idea to honour Maricel came about two years ago, but took some time as the last few years have been very trying on the family.
"My husband’s been sick too. He’s in remission. They (Michael and Maricel) were both in the same hospital the last month when she was ill. They were two floors away," Dela Cruz said.
"It was traumatic, especially for their parents (Reynaldo and Florencia Lisan). They were devastated. I’m a nurse, so I’m always asking ‘What can I do to help them cope?’ It’s impossible to replace a loved one, but what can we do just so she’s never forgotten?"
The scholarship is presented to a Maples student who pursues a post-secondary program in business or administrative assistant, as Maricel attended CDI College.
Gonzales, 18, a Garden City resident, will be attending the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba in the fall.
"My brother also went to Asper and he’s like the businessman of the family. He’s into it so much, he’s very passionate about it, and me, I’m very fascinated with numbers, so I thought to myself ‘Why not go into business?’" said Gonzales, who also won a $500 scholarship from CUPE 949.
"Starting a business, you get to control it and you get to help out your family members too. You can include them in your business."
Dela Cruz said Maricel was a vibrant, friendly individual who didn’t let her illness stop her from doing what she wanted to do.
"She was in hospital the last three months before she passed away, but she still managed to go out on passes to go to our kids’ birthdays and family events," Dela Cruz said. "She was very involved. Even if she was sick, she wanted to go out and do as much as she could."
Dela Cruz said because Maricel was so well-liked, raising money and support for the scholarship hasn’t been a problem.
"We had a big May Long Weekend garage sale fundraiser here and the school was nice enough to make us big banners, and then the foundation (the Seven Oaks Education Foundation) gave us a big poster of the mission, the vision," said Dela Cruz, noting everything that didn’t sell is being donated to Centre Flavie-Laurent (450 Provencher Blvd.), which distributes furniture, appliances and other household items to people in need.
"We raised almost $3,000 over the two days of the garage sale. It was really nice, because we were celebrating her life too. All her friends came, her teachers came. We hadn’t seen them since her funeral. It was a good turnout."