I did it.
I faced my biggest fear. I silenced those inner voices of doubt and the voices of anyone who doubted me. I faced the sun and respectfully declined the invitation to live among the shadows of my insecurities and other people's perceptions.
It's true that I've been homeless . It's also true that I never finished high school. Overcoming the obstacles of poverty, homelessness and marginalization are achievements that have shaped me into the person I am today . But access to housing and basic education is a right. Getting into Harvard is a privilege.
On January 5th, 2015 at 11:49PM after 5 months of self-talk and 18 months of academic preparation. I submitted my application to Harvard University.
For the 5 months leading up to the submission deadline, I heard voices:
"Don't be unrealistic"
"They'll never let you in"
"You're not like the rest of them"
"You don't belong"
"You're not smart enough"
The closer I came to hitting "submit", the louder the voices became. Was I actually good enough to attend the most prestigious university in the world? The voices in my head kept telling me no- and I had reason to believe it. After all, I dropped out of high school and failed math and English repeatedly. But the only voices that affect your actions are the ones you give power to. So, rather than arguing with those voices, I let my actions do that talking. In the midst of another Toronto cold- snap while most of the city was asleep and getting ready to head into work after the long holiday I asked myself the question one more time, "Was I good enough to attend the most prestigious university in the world?" I stared at the crimson red and white web page, took a deep breath and hit that "submit" button.
Last month, I was accepted to attend Harvard University.
It took me 3 days and a phone call from the school to believe it, but now reality has set in. I hit my target and with it a new reality has set in:
I'm an international student with an unconventional education path.
There are no scholarships for people like me to attend Harvard University--- probably because nobody ever expects people (formerly homeless with an unusual academic path/accomplished young professional, but too young to be considered mid-career) like me to attend a school like Harvard.
This is exactly why I created this campaign.
Tuition plus living expenses for an international student is $71,000 USD. That includes roughly $50,000 USD for tuition including mandatory health insurance and other fixed student fees plus $21,000 USD to live in Cambridge, MA.
Including GoFundMe's fees that comes to a total of $93,720 Canadian dollars. My GoFundMe campaign is in CAD.
Now here's the kicker: In order to secure my US student visa to attend school in the USA, I need to provide evidence of $71,000 USD by May 15, 2015. Yep, that's in about 5 weeks.
My biggest issue is covering tuition. No tuition, no Harvard. I will live on a park bench if it means I can attend this school, but I need your help to make sure I get there.
This is what my GoFundMe campaign is for.
QUESTIONS FROM THE CROWD
Since launching this campaign, a number of you have asked questions and given me some great advice. Below are some of the more common questions I've been asked:
1) What will you be studying at Harvard?
I'm a high school drop-out with a unconventional academic path. So naturally, I'm interested in the ways in which people who don't neatly fit into systems and institutions manage to thrive/survive in the world. So I'm doing a Masters of Education, with a focus on non-traditional/alternative education (i.e. arts education). With that type of specialization, I get to enroll in classes at the Harvard Business School, Harvard Law and MIT.
In the long run, I want to combine my policy and strategy background with my education. This will allow me to support alternative education organizations that focus on the arts, digital learning and economic development in a meaningful way.
2) Why are you only asking for $50,000 CAD (or $41,000 USD)? That covers less than half of what you need. I thought you needed $71,000 USD?
I will graciously and humbly accept support that allows me to cover 100% of the funds I need to get to Harvard. If you're thinking about offering that level of support, I will be eternally grateful.
3) Are you going to have a party or a fundraising event?
I would like to and am just sorting out the details. If you'd like to help, feel free to give me a shout!
Fun fact: If I meet my $50K goal, I will only recieve approximately $45,000 because GoFundMe charges a 5% fee, plus 2.9% withdrawl fee from WePay + $0.30 per transaction . So help me exceed this goal!
Thanks in advance for your support!
Photo by: Isa Ransome
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