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.