Help Me Achieve My University Dream

I have been accepted into the school of my dreams: The Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado! I am very excited about this chance to earn a master's degree in creative writing. My plan after graduation is to start Your Own Voice, a business dedicated to travelling to high schools and colleges  around the U.S., teaching empowering writing workshops to young people developing the power of their voice. I also want to offer sliding scale workshops and coaching at community centers, disability support groups, group homes, and anyplace where disabled writers are eager to learn and expand the power of their voice. I envision a business model that helps get my workshops into underserved schools in underserved regions. While any business needs to be sustainable, my mission is not satisfied without also making my work accessible to remote and/or less funded areas. 

Writing is a valuable skill for any student to develop, regardless of what career field they aspire to. Autobiographical writing is particularly powerful, especially for disabled people, as I explained in a recent article, "Authoring Our Own Lives: How Autistics and the World Benefit from Auti-Biography". Own Voice narratives and incorporating one’s lived experience into one’swriting is empowering and healing on many levels.

I can pay for tuition if I can get a PLUS loan, but there is a snag and that's where I need your help. I currently travel around the U.S., doing readings from my books about autism: No You Don't, Essays from an Unstrange Mind, and The ABCs of Autism Acceptance. That work pays for the travel but I live on a shoestring otherwise. Sometimes I even end up stranded without food or fuel because my margins are so small. I keep doing it because I believe so strongly in the work I am doing. Not only am I a working author, but I am working hard every day to improve the lives of autistic people. I've been traveling and working this way for the last three years.

I ended up in debt when I was bitten by a brown recluse spider two years ago. I had a huge necrotizing wound that required four days in the hospital, under the care of surgeons. I barely made it out in time to get to my next speaking engagement. At the time, I was covered by Idaho Medicaid which would not cover my medical costs because I was in Kentucky when I was injured. Of course, such low income meant I couldn't pay those bills myself. That debt went to collections and it's preventing me from getting a PLUS loan now to pay for my tuition.

Getting this master's degree is so important for my future and for my ability to reach people I could support and encourage while nurturing their talent. This degree would open doors for me, combining with all the work I have already done to give me the respected credentials I need to get my workshops into schools. Earning a master's degree would allow me to support so many students, both disabled and not, in developing their writing voices and nurturing the courage to share those words with the world. Every voice matters and the world needs what each person has to share. I want to bring that message of power and pride to students through my work.

If you can help me pay this medical debt in time to get a PLUS loan and start school this Fall 2018 semester, you will not only transform my life but empower me to help so many others transform their lives as well. I need $6500 to pay off the debt that venomous spider left me with.

update: 2/22/2018: I spent the day on the phone with one of the companies that hold my debt and negotiated that debt down by $1600 so I lowered my total goal to $4900! I will continue to work on negotiating the amount down. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Can you please help me with a donation of any size? And can you spread the word about my funding campaign? You will help my dreams come true and fuel the dreams of my future students for years to come. Thank you!

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Maxfield Sparrow
Green Cove Springs, FL

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