College Tuition for Dexter Gueo

Asking for help on behalf of friend is hard thing to do. I am doing so because I have friend Dexter, from Cote d’Ivoire, who is an outstanding person, who has overcome extraordinaire circumstances and is on the cusp of changing the trajectory of his life.

Dexter received a partial scholarship to attend the University of Central Oklahoma, but he needs help to pay the remaining tuition and living expenses. Sheila and I have been saving for a year to help out with his tuition, but we are hoping you can help us close the remaining gap so he can start school this fall.

I met Dexter Gueo when Sheila and I lived in Cote d'Ivoire in 2013 and 2014. We became friends while playing frisbee and soccer together. During our year together, I learned that his family fled their home in western Cote d'Ivoire during the 2011 civil war. Dexter's father was killed in the violence, and his mom fled to Liberia as refugee.  He and his siblings were taken in by his older half-sister in the capital city, Abidjan, in a house with 26 other cousins and family members.  This is the sort of fact that I always had trouble wrapping my head around until I visited the house and saw his small bedroom with three full size beds -- Dexter shared a bedroom with eight cousins, three beds in the room and three people in each bed. 

Dexter was in high school when the civil war occurred. When he arrived in Abidjan, he didn't have the money to re-enroll in high school, and he needed money to eat, so he began working a series of odd jobs to survive.  When Sheila and I met Dexter in 2013, he hadn't attended a class in a few years. We agreed to pay for him to take the baccalaureate exam (France's equivalent of the GED but significantly more challenging, as all graduating high school students are required to take this exam, and many do not pass).  Dexter studied for several months but didn't manage to pass the exam on the first try (he hadn't been in school for several years and was studying in his spare time).  But he kept at it for another year and in 2016 finally managed to pass the exam. 

Still, there are not many university spots in Cote d'Ivoire and even fewer formal jobs that provide a real opportunity at a healthy and financially secure life.  Dexter realized that his best opportunity at achieving his dreams would be to apply for a university abroad.  Dexter spoke only a few words of English when we met. But to support his effort to study abroad, Sheila and I agreed to pay for English classes. Dexter was a determined student, in addition to English classes, he spent as much time as possible at the American Embassy at public events to meet Americans and engage people in English conversations. He was also a regular at the Embassy library, talking with the staff there and using the books and computer resources.  Over the past three years, his English improved immensely.  Remarkably, through the contacts and resources he developed at the Embassy library, he was admitted to University of Central Oklahoma and was given a small scholarship. 

This scholarship would pay for some of his tuition, but he still doesn't have the money to pay for a plane ticket to Oklahoma or for his room and board once there. 

Dexter asked me and Sheila to help him again, and we said that we would try.  For the past ten months, we've been setting aside money to help, which is a start but not enough to cover the flights, remaining tuition and initial living expenses (he's planning on doing work-study and other jobs to support himself, but he needs some initial funds and a small safety cushion). 

With classes starting in the fall, we decided to reach out to you, our friends and family to help Dexter.  We started a GoFund Me to raise an additional $11,000 on top of what we have saved, which would be enough to pay for his flight to Oklahoma, his tuition for the 2019-2020 school year, and his initial living expenses for his first semester in Oklahoma.

We’ve also been in contact with the international admissions officer at University of Central Oklahoma, and we’re happy to discuss Dexter’s situation if you have any additional questions about the program or fees.

With your help, we can change the life trajectory of this hardworking, intelligent and kind person.  We hope you will considering contributing!!
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Max Levin 
Washington D.C., DC
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