In the interest of time, a summary of the circumstances is available at the end of this description.
I have organized this fund to help Tomoni in his current endeavor to obtain a higher education. I have known Tomoni since I was in middle school. He has been my best friend, colleague, and mentor throughout the 12 years I was blessed to have encountered him. Tomoni is a truly outstanding individual, who time and time again has displayed his deep concern for the welfare of the people around him. Be it friends, family or stranger, he has always been quick to attend to the needs of others without regard for himself in true selfless nature.
Tomoni attended the School at Church Farm, a boarding school in Pennsylvania where he achieved high marks and recognition for his outstanding academic performance. After graduating high school, he was accepted to several of Massachusetts’ most prominent schools including Northeastern University and Boston University. His dream was to attend a four year school as a pre-med student majoring in Neuroscience. For a long time, he had been fascinated by the brain and believed he could transform this passion into a career as a neurosurgeon. However, due to financial difficulties in his family, he was unable to attend school, which left him heartbroken and depressed. Tomoni’s parents are not US residents and due to his immigration status (student visa), Tomoni was unable to take out a loan or receive financial aid to attend the college. His situation quickly worsened. Due to Tomoni’s status as a student visa immigrant, he was granted residency by attending school; however, due to his inability to attend college, his visa status was now void. Without a plan of action, he would soon be called in for a hearing for the validation of his visa which would result in his removal from the country.
Tomoni applied to a local community college that allowed registration for classes for a small upfront fee. He attended Northshore Community college in Lynn for one and a half years, which enabled him to preserve his visas status and remain in the country. However, he was unable to find a job, for the status of his visa did not allow him to work in the US legally. With no money and no job, he accrued a balance of five thousand dollars, which prevented him from registering for new classes. Tomoni dropped out of school and lost his student visa. For the next two years, he went through the excruciating process of immigration hearings and other personal challenges including the loss of his home.
In six months, Tomoni had gone from an outstanding high school graduate bound for college to a homeless undocumented immigrant in danger of deportation. Although Tomoni has managed to find a job and has paid a good portion of the debt, there is still an outstanding balance.
There are several private colleges in Massachusetts that accept young undocumented students and extend financial aid. Tomoni’s goal is to apply to these schools in order to pursue his bachelor's degree. Unfortunately, with the outstanding balance owed to Northshore Community College, his transcript cannot be released to complete the application. The deadline for this year’s college applications is April 14th; if Tomoni fails to register on time, he will spend another year in limbo. Tomoni’s deportation case was administratively closed, but he has not been granted an official status. If the current administration chooses to reopen his case, he would again face deportation if he does not have an active student visa.
Let’s show Tomoni that he is not alone in this struggle and that he has the love and support of all those who know him. If you haven't spoken to him in awhile, I encourage you to say a quick word to him; it's probably been awhile since he has seen many of you due to this situation. Let's make this year a year to remember for him. It's time for him to spread his wings, and let the cage of the past hold him no longer. The funds raised from this campaign will go towards clearing his debt and hopefully providing a nest egg for the various college application fees, books, and other educational expenses.
UPDATE: One of the colleges has set a deadline of Mar.27 for all application materials. We're almost at the goal!
- Elizabeth Asongwed
- Whitney Mam
- Water Moves
- Ronit Barkai
- Djani Robertson
Organizer and beneficiary
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