Aruzhan Toleubay's Journey to Healing

I'd like to share a story with you about a student in need of support.  As educators, we hope, always, to be able to help make an impact on the world and our students.  If we are lucky, we encounter a student who makes an impact on us.  This is a story about one of those students.  Aruzhan Toleubay, nicknamed Aru, is an international student from Kazakhstan currently studying hospitality management at Florida International University.  From the day we met her in orientation, it was easy to see that Aru was special.  Her upbeat attitude and positive energy is infectious.  In the three years she has studied at FIU, her enthusiasm and motivation has propelled her to study abroad, find amazing internships and touch peoples lives at every step of the way.  At the root of it all, Aru is humble.  She thanks others for the support they've given her and in turn, provides support to others.  When a new student was feeling sick, Aru stayed up with her in the residence hall all night to make sure she never felt alone.  She is the student that you hope to see come to your school and the friend that everyone wants to have by their side.

In the Spring of her junior year, just as Aru had planned to spend a semester studying abroad, graduating and then working towards her dream job of becoming an event planner for the Oscars, Aru was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Although she and her family hoped to bring her back to Kazakhstan for treatment, doctors said she would not last the flight due to the amount of blood transfusions she required to remain stable.  With no choice but to remain in the United States for treatment, Aru's mom flew out to be with her and Aru started her course of chemotherapy, which doctors are saying will probably last at least a year. 

While Aru remains a positive beacon of hope for her recovery, her family’s biggest worry, besides making sure their daughter has the care she needs, is funding her treatment.  Her insurance has an extremely high deductible and is only covering about 70% of the chemo treatment costs which are estimated at $20K before insurance.  By the time her treatment is done, it is estimated that Aru and her family could be as much as $300,000 in debt.

When Aru started her journey in the states, she began in a dedicated program called FIU Global First Year.  Her Global First Year family never left her and we are asking you now to help us help her and her family.  Anything you can donate will help ensure that Aruzhan's family doesn't drown under the weight of her treatment bills and she can focus on getting well and continuing her journey as a world citizen at FIU.

Organizer and beneficiary

Lauren Van Sant
University Park, FL
Aruzhan Toleubay

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