Help Camila graduate from Yale

$16,060 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 320 people in 2 months
Created March 13, 2019
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Camila Soto Espinoza
Hello everyone. My name is Camila Soto, and I'm the beneficiary of this campaign.

When I was asked to answer a question on Quora about the University Admissions Scandal, I never would have thought my answer would lead to this miracle.


I've spent the last 6 months looking for opportunities and help that never came. Today, a group of kind-hearted strangers have changed my life, and I will never be able to repay you for your contributions. Rest assured that I will never stop fighting. I will fight until my very last day at Yale, I will fight for all my future patients, and I will fight to support as many people as I possibly can, in the hopes that they won't have to endure what I have. Thank you so, so much.
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Hello Family!

I wanted to give you a little update, and share this very special moment that happened because of your help.

Yale School of Nursing holds an annual writing contest every year, and my submission, titled “The Women Of My Family” was one of the winning pieces. So, I had to leave my scrubs at home and put on a dress. The award ceremony took place on one of the fanciest places I’ve ever been in, and I was given the privilege to read my piece in front of classmates, faculty members and donors (and also have some free food). I don’t remember the last time I was that nervous or that scared. If you are interested in hearing me reading my essay, you can find the video of the ceremony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4uuozcK-Tc&feature=youtu.be (Minute 41:22). If you are interested in reading my essay, you can find it here: https://nursing.yale.edu/camila-soto-espinoza

I am also officially a student representative of IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action Solutions). IDEAS is a council organised by the Associate Dean of Global Health and Equity at my school, that seeks to begin conversations and create strategies to support and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion. I am extremely excited and honoured to be a part of this, and can’t wait to use my knowledge and personal experience to seek more support for other students and minorities at Yale.

I will also become a representative for Yale International Nursing Group for the next academic year, a student organisation centered on students interested in Global Health.

Lastly, I am posting this on my phone, since my laptop has slowly been dying after 6 long years of outstanding service. Luckily, those extra 900 dollars that people have donated to this campaign will be used to fix it, or purchase a new one (whatever is cheaper). I’ve also been eating two meals a day ever since this campaign achieved its goal and have been applying for jobs on campus to continue financing my education and related expenses for the next academic year.

I hope my updates are well received. I don’t want to clutter your email accounts. But I feel the need to show you everything I have been able to do because of your generosity. I still lack sufficient words to express my gratitude. I feel so undeserving of everything you have all done for me, but I will grab every opportunity you have all so selflessly given me because none of this would have been possible without you.

Thank you so much for everything.
Camila Soto Espinoza.
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Hello family!

Donations continue to come, and my life continues to be improved by your generosity!

So I think it’s time for an update. Because you need to know how much you have changed my life.

First of all, I’ve been eating two meals a day for a few weeks now and I feel like a new woman. I spent 7 months feeling like my house was on fire because of this financial issue, and I couldn’t think of anything else. Now, I can breathe. Now, I can think. My family home is no longer on sale! My parents are overwhelmed with joy. I have been translating all your messages to my parents (who don’t speak English) and we have cried together so many times that I automatically reach for the tissues whenever I log in to GoFundMe.

But, I’m still keeping my living expenses as low as I can keep them. There are several costs that will come attached to the beginning of the next academic year, and I’m taking full advantage of these times of abundance to save as much as possible for times of need. I’ll be moving from my current apartment soon since the rent was going to increase too much for the next academic year (250 dollars if you can believe it), and I have been able to balance personal and academic expenses. I’m a good planner, and I can keep my expenses to a minimum until I can save enough for that book, or that standardised test I have to pay for.

I have had a few meetings, one with the Associate Dean of Global Health and Inclusion and the Dean of my school to discuss what it means to be a low income student and what can be done to help us. The director of Diversity and Inclusion of my school was also there at my request. She has been such a good moral supporter of my cause. It was an interesting meeting, but emotional and complex to swallow. The Dean of my school and I disagree on very important things, and I don’t think she’ll help with this. The associate Dean of global health and inclusion was wonderful and very understanding. All changes are slow, but no concrete actions came out of it. And that means I’m not stopping there.

I’m also working with people in my school to find my way to the president of my university. Diversity and inclusion are transversal goals for Yale University. Unfortunately, financing isn’t, and not all professional schools receive the same number of donations to help their students (or have this as a priority for the use of their money). This will probably take awhile, but I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this so no other student faces the challenges that I had to face. Speaking up about financial issues is extremely hard, specially in front of people who are often unsupportive, apathetic, or both. There’s a very odd type of shame that settles in you, and staying silent is sometimes easier that putting yourself in a position where you will be questioned, asked to justify your right to be there, and pressed on the validity of your issues and the honesty of your claims. Are you asking for preferential treatment? Are you undermining other struggles? Didn’t you plan for this before coming here? Didn’t we tell you x and y, why are you complaining now? I have gotten so used to answering these questions that I no longer let my feelings get in the way. With that being said, I will recognise that I still can’t go through some parts of the story without choking or crying. And I always cry after a meeting. It’s overwhelming to be in front of powerful people as a student, and put your issues on display like that. But I do it. I have to. Because doing nothing will only help them, not us. They are very good at ignoring us, and I won’t let that happen anymore.

Lastly, I’d like to tell you that I recently had a Quora Session where people asked me questions about my situation as an international, first generation, low Income grad student at Yale. Here are the links to some of my answers:

- What are some unforeseen challenges you faced as a low income foreign student after you moved to the United States?: https://qr.ae/TW1jTk

- How do you get by if you are at critically low funds? Would some friends pitch in to help you or is there a crisis center in uni to help with these kinds of problems?: https://qr.ae/TW8931

- What are you tired of explaining to your more privileged classmates?: https://qr.ae/TW1jTT

And I can’t finish this without thanking you again for your generosity, for your donations, for changing my life so profoundly, for giving me strength and a fighting chance in the middle of a battle I would have lost without all of you. Kim, the organiser of this campaign, recently invited me to her house and gave me 36 hours of uninterrupted, stress-free rest and fun. I call her my fairy godmother. She doesn’t like it that much.

Thank you. Thank you for everything you have done for me. And I promise you all, I will make you proud.

Camila Soto Espinoza.
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I've been trying to craft the perfect post.

They all started the same; On a cold Tuesday night in New Haven, the loudest cheers of celebration could be heard from blocks. The neighbourhoods, perplexed that such tiny human could produce such ear-piercing sound, were wondering what on earth could have caused such glee.

7 drafts later, and I just deleted it all.

The truth is that I'll never be able to find the perfect words to thank you for this, for what you have done. We passed our goal only a few hours after I published the last update, and it was at that moment that I could breathe for what felt like the first time in 7 months,

You have brought back the air and oxygen into my life. You have brought back a level of peace I had forgotten existed. You have given me back my sanity and my faith. You have restored my courage and my strength. I don't know, truly don't know how could I ever repay you for this, how can I truly thank you for it all.

I can promise you though, that I will continue to fight. I have already confirmed my next meeting with the Dean of my school and the Associate Dean of Global Health and Inclusion the last Friday of March, and I plan to have many more meetings ahead to request more support for low-income students in grad school.

I'd like to keep you updated on my progress, so this campaign will remain open for the sake of convenience. Feel free to message me (I really love receiving messages from you) here or on Quora, and ask questions. I will try my best to answer as quickly as possible.

Some beautiful people have chosen to donate again, which is just mind-blowing to me. Your generosity knows no boundaries. Please know that all the extra donations collected through this campaign will help me close the gap between my loans and the costs of my tuition even more. The additional costs added to my program (15K divided evenly in two years) created a gap of 25.5 K per year between my loan and the total cost of my tuition. After your donations, that gap has been reduced to 18K per year. If you feel like donating for other reasons (like to get me a meal or a cup of coffee) just say so and the money you provide will be used exactly for that.

You are my heroes. Thank you, thank you so much for this unbelievable miracle. You have made the impossible happen, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Thank you for changing my life.
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Today, I received an email from the GoFundMe team. They donated $500 USD to my campaign, and now I’m $103 USD away from my goal (read with automated, shocked voice).

And I still cannot believe it.

This process has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I spent 7 months hearing the word “No” and “There’s nothing we can do”, and then you, ALL OF YOU came and changed that.

YOU changed my life.

I don’t think you’ll ever truly understand just how much you are altering the course of my future, but here I go. I’d like to help you understand a little of where I come from (and there’s some important information at the end as well, so please keep reading):

My mom and dad come from poor families. Dirt-poor as my mom calls it, since she grew up in a house with no floor. I’m the very first Chilean accepted into this program. I’m the first in my family (and the first woman in my extended families) to graduate from college, and the first person ever to seek a Masters degree. I’m also the only bilingual person in my family (so none of my loved ones have been able to read your beautiful messages, but rest assured that I have and will continue to translate it for them)

Things like an acceptance letter from Yale don’t happen to people like me, as you can imagine. I don’t come from money, I’m not a legacy. Most of my family haven’t even heard the name Yale because academia wasn’t a reality for them. I had no one to guide me. Google was my best friend when I was trying to learn how to write a resume in US format, and how to do an application process. I had to choose only one university to apply to, because the paperwork was going to cost me 2 months worth of salary. But I kissed my savings goodbye. “This is an investment” I told myself and kept going. I was not just applying for an opportunity to help Hispanic/Latinx and low-income patients, I was also going to be able to help my grandma, and my aunts, and my cousins, and my parents when they needed me.
I still can’t shake the feeling that I got into a party I wasn’t meant to be invited to. Places like Yale are not built for people like me. But here I am, causing trouble, still helping my family in any way I can (for example, my grandma needed dentures recently, she had nowhere to find $80.000 Chilean pesos or $120 USD, and I got them for her. She was losing too much weight), and trying to keep myself above water.

I moved to the US alone and the cultural shock has been an interesting experience, so I’m still figuring everything up. How to pay bills in the US, how to rent or lease without credit score (and what is a credit score. A very peculiar concept if I must add), how to use all those amazing coupons, and more. I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing 100% of the time (as a lot of adults out there. Let’s just fake it until we make it), but I must be doing something right, because I’m still here.

And all of you are making sure I continue to stay here so I can fight. And you have donated your hard earned money, so it’s very important to me that you know exactly what will happen with it. So here I go:

This money will go exclusively to cover the extra costs added to my tuition for the second and third year of my program (15K divided equally into two years). This money doesn’t cover all my tuition, just the extra costs added to it, and this is important to highlight. I always knew I had a 18K gap per year between my loans and my tuition for the second and third year of grad school; one that I would have to cover with hard work and creativity. But the increased costs in tuition meant that now I had a 25.5K gap per year to cover, and that was impossible for me.
Then you came in.

I have told you that you are giving me a fighting chance and I mean it. This money was never meant to solve all my financial issues, but it will keep me in my program, and give me a chance to do just that: Fight, work hard.

If this campaign collects more money than originally intended, then all that will go straight to cover my tuition, closing the gap even more, and effectively giving me more room with my finances to cover meals, bills and my rent.

Regardless of what happens, regardless of where this ends, I will never be able to forget how the kindness of almost 300 strangers that came in like fairy godparents, magically uplifted me when I was down in a very dark hole I couldn’t get out of.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, and the heart of my family. Thank you.
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$16,060 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 320 people in 2 months
Created March 13, 2019
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Camila Soto Espinoza
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