Ilia fighting for his dreams

Who am I? 
My name is Ilia Calogero Curto Pelle, a 22-year-old student from Sofia, Bulgaria. Like most of my peers, I love reading historical novels, spending time playing video games, and listening to different types of music from around the world. One of my biggest achievements is graduating from Princeton University with an A.B. in Classics and a concentration in Ancient History as the first member of my family to graduate from a university in the Ivy League. 

History has always been a passion of mine. The study of events, the connections between them, and the ways they affected the nations, economies, and peoples of the world, has fascinated me since my childhood. That’s why my greatest dream is to become a social and economic historian of the Eastern Mediterranean. My hope is to create a new and interdisciplinary methodology for the study of social and economic history that combines different approaches from several disciplines in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences to better recreate the lives of ordinary people. If you want to learn more about me, my past experiences, and my aspirations, please feel free to visit my website.

Why me?
I was born and raised in Bulgaria, a country that suffers from a chronically underfunded and inequality-ridden educational system, which provides little to no support, academic or financial, for students to develop as historians. Despite this, I have tried to make the most of all the opportunities that crossed my way since high school. This has led me to produce several independent research projects, learn to write and read 12 languages, and excel in my academic studies until now. Moreover, several of my researches have been presented at international conferences, published in undergraduate journals at Yale and Johns Hopkins University, and awarded prizes from institutions like the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Princeton University. 

Why I’m doing this? 
It has been an incredible privilege for me to work and study alongside some of the brightest minds in the world and to be taught by many of the greatest scholars of my discipline at Princeton University, but for me Oxford University was always the “promised land.” And now that I finally have received the opportunity to pursue a two-year MPhil program in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, a new obstacle appeared on my path, this being the reason for the launch of my GoFundMe campaign. The financial prerequisites of the degree would be unbearable for my family and myself. 

Achieving this degree would expose me to a new culture, give me access to some of the best academic resources in the world, and fulfil my lifelong dream of studying at this great institution. So far, despite my attempts, the only progress was made is in securing a scholarship of 3,300 British pounds a year from St. Catherine’s College, which is far below the expected costs of the program. 

The goal?
The cost of Oxford program is around 100,000 British pounds for the two years of study. These include about 60,000 pounds in course fees and about 40,000 pounds in living costs. Through my family’s financial commitment, my savings from working during the COVID-19 pandemic and undergraduate study, and my future goal to work 20 hours a week while studying, I could succeed in mustering about half of this sum. 

Thus, my hope is to be able to find help in collecting about 50,000 British pounds, which would enable me to study and live in Oxford. For more information about the student fees to which overseas students are liable at Oxford, please see this link .

The timeline?
The MPhil program starts in October. However, the course fees have to be paid by the middle of August 2022. This means that gathering at least the 30,000 pounds necessary to pay for the first year of my education at Oxford needs to happen in the next two months if there is any chance for me to achieve my plan of studying at Oxford. So, I need your help.

How can you help?
Unfortunately, many bright minds in the humanities are hampered by the general lack of funding for their studies. Therefore, any assistance will be heartfully appreciated. If you consider helping me, thank you, each and every donation would help bring me closer to the fulfilment of my vision. Every donation counts, no matter how big or small. If you are unable to set aside funds for this cause, please at least consider sharing this GoFundMe page with your friends and family, so that my story can reach more people. Thank you heartily for your support!

Ilia Curto Pelle

Organizer and beneficiary

Salvatore Curto Pelle
Canicattì, AG
Ilia Curto Pelle

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