My name is Nathalie Ortiz, and I am currently a junior at UMass Amherst. I grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a community in which less than fifty percent of children graduate high school and which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state. Despite the challenges of my environment, I managed to be the only student from my graduating class to attend a four-year college.
I attribute much of my success to my involvement in my community and eager participation in every opportunity that has come my way. I have developed a strong sense of responsibility for my city and have worked and volunteered in the community for many years. Holyoke has such a tight-knit Puerto Rican community that it was not until I was older that I realized there is more to the world than the city that I was born in. It is a result of this realization that I made it one of my dreams to travel the world and to bring back what I have learned in order to help broaden my community's view of what lies beyond the city limits. I am the first in my family fulfill the dream of attending college, and I now have the opportunity to fulfill my dream of international travel. As a direct result of my hard work at UMass, I have been accepted to Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, where I intend to study International Relations. My acceptance came as a surprise and with little advance notice. I am expected to be in Seoul by February 23, 2012 and intend to stay for two semesters.
This trip not only important to me, but it is also important to the youth that I serve during my time in the community, as well as the younger members of my family. I am a rolemodel and find great pride in being able to set a good example for them. By going abroad I will be able to come back with a story to tell. I am hoping that by sharing my story I can continue to inspire others to reach for their own dreams.
This is a dream opportunity for me, and I need your help with the only remaining obstacle "“ the expense. Since Yonsei University is considered a branch of the UMass campus, my tuition will be covered by about $20,000 worth financial aid that I have been able to acquire on my own. However, I will still need your help. In order to pay for my airfare and some of my living expenses, I need to raise $4,000 in a very short time. I understand that right now times are very hard, but by contributing even a small amount, you could help me get one step closer to reaching my goal and making my dream come true.
Thank you for your time, and I can't wait to come back and share my experiences and photos of my journey.
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