For those of you reading this that don't know me, my name is Julie Burlington. I'm a senior studying Media Studies/Performance Studies at the University of California Berkeley.
I have done theater for many years - it has been my worst addiction and my best passion. It has led me into so many new opportunities and situations that I couldn't have even dreamed about. I have already had the amazing experience of working as a performer at Legoland and as a soundtrack vocalist for Disneyland. In early October I decided to attend a Walt Disney World audition in San Francisco purely for the "fun" of the experience. After all, many Disney performers I knew had to audition numerous times before getting hired.
So, it would seem I am very blessed to have been offered a full-time position as a performer. And after years and years of dreaming about this job, I now finally get the opportunity to follow my dreams.
Just to give you a little bit of background of my life...
My time in college has been a bit of a roller coaster. During my freshman year, I worked full time to pay for school and other expenses. In my sophomore year I continued to work and attend school. Then things started to get crazy. Halfway through the school year my dad passed away at age 50. At the end of sophomore year, I contracted spinal meningitis which took a severe toll on my health and school plans.
Overcome with $180,000+ in medical bills (we lost our health insurance when my dad passed away) and still recovering from meningitis, I was forced to take a break from school. During this year off I faced even more health problems.
Due to my high fever (103+ for over 3 weeks) during meningitis, I had many new issues to deal with: my hair falling out (thanks to the meds), pneumonia (from being sick on my back for 7 weeks) and a partially collapsed lung (from hiking while not knowing I had pneumonia). While still dealing with now almost $220,000 in medical bills, I then began my struggle with paricarditis. For those who have never heard of it (like, everyone), it is a lovely viral sickness that somehow made its way into my heart, creating swelling, irritation and fluid within the pericardium of my heart - this turned out to be chronic.
Despite these health setbacks, in my junior year I applied, and was extremely thrilled when I received my acceptance, to UC Berkeley!!! Which ranks as the #1 public university in the world! It was a crazy first year at Berkeley with 3 jobs (yes, I said 3 jobs) and 18 units per semester. But you have to pay the bills somehow, right?
Unfortunately, this school year I lost all my financial aid and scholarships due to a legal dispute over retirement funds that were dispersed after my dad's passing. Yet, I still have pressed forward to pay my tuition and school expenses all on my own.
Considering all that, don't freak out! I am not giving up my school endeavors and running away to Disney World. I will be taking online classes from UCB/UCR during my time in Orlando and I will be graduating in the fall semester.
But (and this is what you all have been waiting for)...
My savings accounts are emptied, my wallet has about $3 and I've just been given the greatest opportunity I could wish for. I feel so proud to have made it this far. I have an overall GPA of 3.83, and although my heart still hurts from all the scar tissue (and the medical bill debt collectors keep calling)... I still will get my degree, AND I will get to Orlando.
These funds are to help pay for moving expenses, a deposit on my new apartment, and food till my first paycheck as I transition over jobs.
Honestly, I never thought I would ever start a GoFundMe. It's very strange pouring out your shortcomings, dreams, and financial situation into an online post in order for people to give you money. As Tiana quotes her daddy saying, “Fairy tales can come true - but you gotta make 'em happen, it all depends on you!" Well, I am working hard to make my fairy tale come true, but I am asking for a little help along the way.
Anything you can give would be oh so appreciated.
Much love and gratitude <3
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