U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Donald Ray died in April 1998 while on active duty. His daughter Isabella was just two years old at the time. “If anything, I have this warm fondness for him. I don’t think people ever truly leave you, so I like to think wherever I go he’s with me always,” Isabella shared.
Isabella says her father’s sacrifice was to keep Americans safe. “I know he passed on defending the ideals the United States stands for,” she explained. “I think my Dad would be most proud of me for believing in myself, knowing who I am and not letting life’s obstacles drag me away from what I want to do with myself.”
Isabella plans to pursue a doctoral degree to become a museum curator or historical consultant for the entertainment industry. “My dream achievement is to discover where Cleopatra is buried and discover documentation written in her voice,” she said. With the help of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, she is studying classics and international studies with a minor in theatre at Virginia Wesleyan University.
Isabella was inspired to choose this field after a visit to the British Museum when she was eleven years old. “I knew I had to work to preserve the cultures of those who have long since passed,” she explained. “The worlds of Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and their neighbors continue to teach me about humanity and I want my career to repay these revolutionaries for their wisdom.”
“Fallen Patriots has changed my life,” Isabella shared. “I feel free to pursue my dreams. I’m eternally thankful for their support and for believing in kids like me and what our parents sacrificed.” Her advice to other Fallen Patriots scholars is to remember and cherish the memories of your parent and let them fuel you to pursue your dreams.