I got this

Arue had a tough time last year. Her great uncle who had raised her in many ways was diagnosed with cancer. Her mother had to quit one of her three jobs to care for him and get him back and forth from hospitals and doctors on the bus. An only child, Arue wanted to come home to Houston and leave Wooster. Her mom said, “No, you still have work to do.”

Together, Arue and I raised $570 for her tuition. Her uncle passed away this summer and more life changes seemed to keep coming, but together Arue and her mom stood strong together. I asked her about renewing her edfurther scholarship and this is what she wrote:

Thanks to edfurther I have started the semester off strong. I am starting on my Independent Study Research and am excited to see how it turns out!

People have been really kind to me and I am really grateful for that. I was able to keep my old job working on campus as a barista 17 hours per week, so I hope to do okay this semester and be able to pay some/most of the tuition bill in the spring. I know 17 hours doesn’t seem like a ton of work hours, but somehow this year seems more stressful than the past 3 years, so I’m not sure if I could handle more hours. Maybe that’s how it’ll keep getting as I get older.

I am studying for the GRE and I hope to take it on October 29th, if everything works out and if I can send my registration fee on time. I will be applying to graduate programs this fall and early spring semester as well.

I want others to have the opportunity that I had this summer with edfurther, so I will not be renewing my scholarship page. I know there are so many students who have greater financial needs when it comes to college, and I want them to have this opportunity. Thank you for checking up on me and I hope you and your family are doing well.

This is why this work matters so much. One hand up to get across the threshold of a challenge…

james beeks: almost out of options

From research, it is said that less than 2% of undergraduate students in the United States participate in study abroad. As a person from an underserved community, my dream of leaving the country had finally become a reality. The five weeks in England seemed to pass by in the blink of eye. I returned to the piney woods of East Texas only to be burdened with the stress of paying off the remainder of a tuition loan. Plan A of working to pay off the $600+ balance was in effect, but as the fall semester inched closer, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of defeat; I did not have the sufficient funds to cover the remaining loan balance.

Plan B of working out a payment solution with the university business office did not work, so I began to accept the reality of spending my final year of college at home. As with many millennials, I voiced my stress through the 160 character limit on Twitter. I had a built a strong following and previously connected with Chris Gonzalez, a fellow Spring Branch ISD and Genesys Works supporter. My thoughts prompted a direct follow up with Chris and the mentorship began.

At this point in my life, I felt as if I exhausted all of the resources I could possibly depend on such as family (low income), school (financial aid), and personal. There was no Plan C and I believed that my time at Stephen F. Austin was coming to a close due to finances.

With guidance from Chris Gonzalez, a resolution was in sight. As a next step, Chris put me in contact with Dr. Klussmann of SBISD, who delivered a solution. With this assistance, the financial need I had was fulfilled and I was excited to start my final year of college without a financial burden. I was now able to focus on finishing strong and applying my study abroad experience to the remainder of undergrad and beyond.

As I walked across the stage a few months later, I reminisced about this moment, as being significant for me to not only graduate, but graduate on the 4-year mark. The support is needed by many students who are out of options. #Crowdfunding #ToAndThroughCollege #SelfReflection

Chris’ Note: James’ experience gave me the idea for edfurther. I knew it shouldn’t have to be that hard to get across the finish line. He was so close, and a $250 gap was about to make his graduation impossible. So close and yet so far away. 

change happens: astrid gonzalez

By Astrid Gonzalez 

Change happens all the time. I have no problem with change; I welcome it. I always thought I’d study political science and then go to law school. Yet life played out differently, bringing a new, uncharted path.

Dreams

I had dreamed about being a lawyer and the decision to not follow this road was not an easy one. I could have allowed my parents to take on debt for me. When the time came to make the final decision, I told my parents that under no circumstance were they allowed to borrow money for my college tuition. And that was that. I no longer had the same plan.

Reality Check

I proceeded to look for an affordable education (I may not be attending and became a full-time student at Houston Community College. I am proud to have attended HCC. Besides saving money I completed two degrees just a year after high school. I have also been able to work and save money for my brother’s education and dreams. He will study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M in the fall.

Now on my continued quest for a bachelor’s degree finances are a problem again. But my life’s purpose keeps me focused.

My Purpose

My grandmother beat cancer once, but five years later it came back for round two. Once again she refused to put her life on hold and kept to her routine of looking after her property, crops, and livestock. She refused pills to help ease the pain, because even though they made the pain go away they would kill her faster on the inside. Unfortunately, she succumbed to the strategic metastasizing blows of cancer.

Seeing the pain cancer brought to my family and not being able to meet my grandmother made me determined from a young age to contribute to the efforts in finding a cure for such a horrible disease.

Gratitude

I am grateful for the support of my parents, family, friends, and investors like many of you that allows me to stay on track to reach my goal. I also plan to support my youngest brother as well in two years when he graduates from high school, because this is what big sisters do.

Invest in Astrid’s future and scholarship here. 

#proofpointday: ariel trevino

A first-generation college student, Ariel Trevino’s story is one of hard work and service to others. One of the first students to attend a new charter school at Rusk Elementary–Project YES (later known as YES Prep Public Schools). Ariel thrived and grew under the Youth Engaged in Service (YES) model. Every week, students served the neighborhood–planting trees, creating books about recycling, and volunteered at the Covalescent Center in Second Ward and played games with senior citizens which included Monopoly, Chess and a local favorite Dominoes.

Through high school at YES Prep, Ariel was a part of the “Soccer Four”–four buddies who kept each other out of trouble, studying and learned together, and gave their hearts to soccer. He remembers doing Mr. D’s (Desrossiers) proofs together and how no one could beat them. Even when they played against eight players, they won. They were always better together. 20160503_062655_2

As his 12th grade government teacher, I remember the Soccer Four and Ariel’s steadfast focus on learning. His heart was apparent in everything he did. He was excited to be headed to University of Houston after graduation. He had “made it.”

At UofH he lived on campus, was in the Honors College, and played club soccer. He was on the dean’s list. Ariel was studying Mechanical Technology and doing well.

Things have never been easy in Ariel’s family. They are what they are; not easy and not impossible. After two years of mounting debts, learning that he wouldn’t be allowed to take classes in the fall until he paid tuition, and family problems, he let his dream go. He didn’t return for his junior year. Ariel took care of himself but the dream seemed to slip away. He worked in deliveries. He worked in restaurants. He continues to work in catering at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This first-generation college student didn’t believe he would ever be a college graduate.

11220459_10207287130110095_4283552021829783522_nAnd then he had a daughter, and Arlet loves learning at KIPP Explore where she is in kindergarten. She loves being a “BRIGHT Explorer” (top of her class) and “on The Team” (excellent conduct). She enjoys reading books and coloring with her Dad, but most of all she loves field trips to learn about animals and science.

Arlet is going to college. And her dad is going to make sure nothing can stop her by getting his degree first so that Arlet will be a second-generation college graduate.

Chris Barbic, YES Prep’s Founder says this about Ariel, “Ariel Trevino occupies a special and big place in my heart. I have known home since 5th grade and he started at YES Prep when it was Project YES at Rusk Elementary. He graduated in one of our first classes and his mom, a terrific, hard working woman, worked at YES Prep for several years. Love him and his family. He is a great kid working hard to finish school and a prime reason why organizations like edfurther are so important. Hope you’ll help Ariel reach his fullest potential.”

As Ariel works hard in catering to pay tuition and bills, I hope you will consider investing in his college dreams by clicking here.