Send Aubrey Abroad!

Hello! First and foremost, thank you for stopping by my page, and whether you donate or not, I am grateful for your consideration! I hope that you will take a little time to read about my cause:

At a Glance
Who I am: Aubrey Ward, 27, writer-poet, English/creative writing major at the University of Houston (UH)

My cause: Raise funds for a life-changing study abroad trip to New Zealand (Massey University Creative Expression and Digital Media Expedition and Internship)

My current credentials: 3.96 GPA, member of the Honors College, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), recipient of a Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS), Poetry Editor for Glass Mountain literary magazine

The program: A two-week trip across the country of New Zealand to explore different locales and study its arts and cultures (6-8 credit hours), followed by a four-week internship with a company in the capital city of Wellington

Timeline: I hope to meet my goal by the time I leave for New Zealand in early June!

This passageway through some New Zealand mountains represents my personal road to New Zealand for what will certainly be a life-changing study abroad experience.

Where the Money Goes
All donations go directly to the financing of the study abroad program. The $10,000 goal accounts for:

-Program fees: $6,900 (includes tuition, lodging, and health insurance)
-Airfare: $1,500 (round trip)
-Meals: $1,260
-Incidentals: $200
-Transportation: $140 (to and from internship placement)

If you donate . . .
$5: You have made possible a day of transportation to and from my internship placement!
$10: You just bought me a New Zealand meal!
$15: You have paid for a course-related book!
$25: You funded an evening of entertainment in Wellington, one of the coolest little capitals in the world!
$50: Your contribution just went a long way toward visas and other processing fees!
$100: You just gave me back my application fee!
$250: You sent me sky-high with thirty miles of airfare!
$500: Who are you? That's a lot of money!
$1000: You're approaching priceless status.
Over $1000? You literally just changed my life!

Financial Need
I hope you'll read my story below, but here's the short version: a history of drug and alcohol addiction and various mental health issues has prevented me from contributing more to the financing of my college education. I'm nine years sober now, and I've learned how to live with my conditions. I'm doing better than ever, but I've been through a lot to make it this far, and your donation helps me go even further! (and farther)

Unfortunately, my family was severely impacted by the flooding of Hurricane Harvey that ravaged Houston and the surrounding area. We lost most of our earthly possessions and still aren't home yet. Due to grace and the kindness of our dear friend Betty Rathbun, we have a comfortable place to stay and a semblance of normal life---but not much to spare for a college learning abroad endeavor!

Why This Program?
I spent a lot of time and effort finding the perfect learning abroad program. I decided on this one because it combines all the facets of similar programs into one comprehensive package, and it moves me closer to accomplishing all of my goals.

I've only been out of the country a few times, and it was when I was much younger (and with my parents). To me, New Zealand is a sort of middle-earth (ha, see what I did there?) between the known and the unknown. It is a step beyond, say, London, but still a place where English is the primary language. It is way outside my comfort zone, but at least I won't have to worry about something like communicating with locals. It's a good balance for someone like myself who's never ventured outside the country alone.

Most importantly, the material I'll study coincides with my passions and interests, and I get to learn while traveling across the entire country! It's one thing to visit another place; it's another to traverse it in its entirety. Along the way, I'll be exposed to seminal works by some of New Zealand's best writers, and I'll study work from a variety of other kinds of artists, too. I'll earn college credit that will transfer back to UH while doing so, and this will show on my transcript for the rest of my academic career.

After the two-week expedition, I'll arrive at New Zealand's capital city for a four-week internship. When I learned that possible internship placements include publishing houses, literary journals, and zines, I couldn't believe that the options suit me so well! As the Poetry Editor for Glass Mountain, UH's undergraduate literary magazine, I've become very interested in the literary publishing industry, and working within literary publishing is something I'm considering to supplement my writing during and/or after graduate school---speaking of which, this experience will help my resume and graduate school applications immensely. I also have aspirations to become Editor-in-Chief of Glass Mountain for my senior year, and the experience gained during my internship will help make me a prime candidate for the position. 

Best of all, the memories created from a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this will inspire me for the rest of my life. I want to travel because I want to learn about other people and other places. As a writer, I seek to explore the human condition, and that simply can't be done without visiting foreign lands. This study abroad trip moves me closer to my ultimate goal of writing poetry that can reach and positively impact all kinds of people. I'm sure I'll be a valuable member of my group and that I'll make some great, long-lasting friendships while I'm at it.

Thanks for helping me make it to New Zealand and reach my goals! I know my leap of faith will pay off. If you're interested in how I got this far, read on!

My Story
My name's Aubrey Ward. I'm a student at the University of Houston, where I major in English in the undergraduate creative writing concentration. Poetry is my passion, and my ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on as many lives as possible through my writing.

I've been through a lot to get to where I am. My childhood was mostly normal, but in adolescence, I was confronted by the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction, which landed me in in-patient rehab at seventeen. As I stumbled through recovery and early sobriety, I discovered that I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and I have always dealt with high anxiety levels, especially in social situations.

When I was twenty with about two years of sobriety under my belt, I was blindsided by severe clinical depression. Just when I was beginning to take some huge strides in life, that mental monster sacked me. I was working part time as a legal assistant, taking classes at Houston Community College, garnering and nourishing friendships in a supportive network of similarly minded individuals, and feeling good about my spiritual way of life. I felt like a spaceship excelling ever upwards, about to break through Earth's atmosphere---and then I came crashing down, crippled by the depression, which only fed on my anxiety and OCD, mutating into an unstoppable force, seemingly overnight.

I've been making my way out of the crater created from my crash ever since. At first, I couldn't even move. I was paralyzed. Then, I had to crawl, just to find a rock for support and prop myself up. I stayed that way for a good long time, almost two years. With help from my therapist and my parents, I managed to get to my feet, to at least walk the perimeter of my cavernous dwelling and assess the walls. I came to grips with my situation, and slowly but surely, I began to climb.

I am grateful, happy, and proud to say that today, I am out of that crater, and on to new and better things. I still endure depressive episodes from time to time, but thankfully, I've learned to cope, and I've continued to make progress in the right direction. There are always hills and valleys along the path---emotional highs and lows that come and go, good days and bad, successes and failures---but I know how to move through all that now, and I truly believe that my experience of mental health makes me a stronger and far more resilient human being.

Now, I'm ready to live my life. As a poet, I've learned to cringe at cliches, but what else can I say? I was a proverbial hermit in my early twenties, and it wasn't until my mid-twenties that I learned how to function on a daily basis. Methodically adding more to my plate, always careful not to tip the delicate balance by taking on more than I could handle, I learned to adjust, and now I've arrived to a whole new frontier. I am a full-time student at a densely populated, thriving university. I am a member of my school's Honors College, I have a 3.96 GPA,  I am part of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), I am the Poetry Editor for Glass Mountain, UH's undergraduate literary magazine, and I was recently awarded a Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS) to study the decision-making processes of the literary publishing industry. 

The next step? Go abroad.

Our summer is New Zealand's winter. Help me escape the Houston heat!

During my Leadership Training Day for the NSLS, I realized that I should make travel a priority in my life. While answering questions about my purpose and crafting a unique vision statement for myself, the idea of travel came up repeatedly, and it finally dawned on me: I need to pursue this, and I need to do it now.

I haven't wasted any time. I've applied to the program (and was just accepted; see updates!), and I've been spending a lot of time and effort making sure I accomplish what's necessary to make this trip a reality. My final step, after a ton of paperwork, multiple visits to my school's learning abroad office, and as many scholarship applications as I could handle, is this GoFundMe campaign. 

With all earnestness, thank you for visiting my page and for reading about my cause. I hope to tell you all about it in the future (sponsorship reward levels are now live; please take a look!), and whether you donate or not, I hope you'll consider sharing this campaign with anyone who might be interested in lending a hand. One social media share goes a long way!

I appreciate you!

Donations ()

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    • $25 
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    • $500 
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Aubrey Ward 
Houston, TX
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