Cat Zingano awards $10k scholarship to student who tragically lost family

Cat Zingano awards $10k scholarship to student who tragically lost family

MMA fighter, Cat Zingano, awards Anna Wiggins of Indianapolis, IN the second annual $10,000 “Overcoming Loss” Scholarship on Cat created the scholarship in 2021 to support students persevering through grief, just as she has. Cat has also launched a third round of the $10,000 scholarship, now open for applications at the link above.

Anna’s deeply moving entry to the scholarship shared her personal story of strength in the face of immeasurable adversity, as she lost her entire family as a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before being adopted by a family in the United States. Anna’s tragic experiences inspired her to fight for those without a voice, and with Cat’s help, Anna will be attending Howard University to study criminology and sociology, after which she plans to attend law school and become a lawyer to fight for human rights for marginalized people.

Cat Zingano has fought the who’s who of pioneers in women’s MMA, including Amanda Nunes, Rounda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Julianna Peña, Raquel Pennington, Ketlen Vieira, and more. Cris Cyborg is the one major opponent that Cat has yet to face, and after years of anticipation that’s now finally coming to fruition in a fight for the Bellator title, eight years after Cat competed for the UFC title.

Cat’s scholarship was inspired by her own personal experience fighting through loss and grief. When Cat was in college, her mother was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. When her mother passed away in 2005, Cat was struck by devastating loss during an already stressful time. Cat had just become pregnant with her son. She was juggling a job, her college courses and preparing for parenthood – all while grieving. Pushing through this period, Cat achieved incredible success early into her MMA career. She was thriving professionally, but in 2014, her world came crashing down with another tragedy. Cat’s husband — who guided her career as a coach — took his own life. Although Cat has faced severe hardships, she continues to fight both on and off the mat to show her son that obstacles and adversity won’t conquer their life.

Cat Zingano

“It is a privilege to be able to offer this scholarship with and to continue our efforts together. I am so appreciative that thousands of applicants take the time to share their stories, which are often difficult memories and experiences for them to revisit.

“I am a big believer that we can all persevere through our worst experiences, especially with the right support. Reading these essays gives me so much hope, because I get to see the amazing things being accomplished by those who have been through unimaginable tragedies.

“This year’s scholarship winner, Anna, is a shining light. She has suffered more loss than anyone should ever be subjected to, and yet she is warm, optimistic, strong, and dedicated to helping others. I am honored to provide some support to help her further her education, and I know she’s going to do remarkable things and have a positive impact on so many. As our first two scholarship winners, Destiny and Anna are such inspiring examples of perseverance, fortitude, and grace. I am humbled to be able to call them my friends, and I look forward to continuing this scholarship and honoring another incredible individual next year.””

Anna Wiggins

“When I found this scholarship, it felt as though this scholarship was created specifically for me. The application requested that students write about how they have overcome loss. My entire life has been consumed by loss.

“I was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When I was young, I lost my mother and sister to death and later in life, I lost my brother and my father. I was orphaned on the streets of Congo at the young age of five. There have been many times where it felt like my life was falling apart. It felt like the waves were crashing over me. I felt as though I was drowning and that I would never be able to catch my breath. Everyone and everything I had ever known was stripped from me.

“Orphaned on the streets of Congo, surviving the brutality of the orphanage, I have been knocked down and left for dead. Yet, through the power of Jesus Christ, I have risen.

“When I received the news that I had won this scholarship, I was consumed by a multitude of emotions. Feelings of gratitude, shock, and joy washed over me.

“Because of this scholarship, my dream of attending Howard University has become a reality.

“Living in the orphanage, I understood I would never get the opportunity to go to school. I was one of the few children who made it out of the orphanage alive.

“Graduating high school and receiving higher education is surreal. I am watching my dreams unfold. The excitement and joy I feel is indescribable.

“Everything I do is for the children of Congo. I do this for my family whose lives were ended so shortly. I do this for the little girl I once was. I do this for the God who saved my life. I have fought for my life. I have persevered. I have overcome my trials and I will continue to succeed.

“Because of Cat Zingano’s generosity, I am able to attend Howard University and chase my dreams of becoming a child advocacy lawyer. Cat Zingano has played a significant role in my story. She has left a mark on my life. I will forever be grateful for her.”

Cat joins a long list of public figures who support education on Other scholarship donors include Imagine Dragons, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Jameela Jamil, Terry Crews, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Sloane Stephens and many more.

In 2022, Cat Zingano awarded the first round of her scholarship to Destiny Wallace of Alabama.

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