Help Me Achieve My University Dream

$2,038 of $4,900 goal

Raised by 42 people in 27 days

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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It’s getting close to the halfway point! I am simultaneously so grateful for the help and so anxious about reaching the goal in time.

I have uncovered a path of service to others that I am perfectly suited for, one that can finally lift me out of poverty while offering me the opportunity to lift others up, helping them find their authentic voice and their own words. I am truly humbled by this chance to help others claim their power and so excited that I can make my life better through helping others make their lives better.

It is almost in my grasp. I feel as if my fingertips are just grazing the goal. My eyes are on it, but it is still mere inches out of my reach. That is why I need help from kindhearted others.

I have been negotiating my debt, trying to get the best payment arrangements possible. As a result, I have promised payments on April 1st....payments I don’t have all the money for yet. I’m almost half-way to the total goal but I’m still a few hundred dollars short of what I need to have on April 1st.

And then there’s my PLUS loan deadline. I need to have the debt paid and cleared before I apply for my grad school loan. Fall semester seems like a long time away, but it’s not really. I am so anxious about making it in time. I feel like the clock is ticking and time is running out on me.

All I can do is trust that things will come together for me because this career path — this life move — is meant to be. I feel that all the way to my bones. That, and ask you to please share my campaign with others. And, again, to thank you so much for all you have done for me and for my future and for my future students. I am deeply, deeply grateful.
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Two payments have been sent off! I am very grateful for this help. I negotiated paying the biggest of the medical debts off in three payments, so I’m hoping to get about another $500 in the campaign before April so I can make the next payment.

I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for your show of faith in me and my mission.
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Good news! I spent the day on the phone with the holders of one of my package of debts (I am drained! I am still recovering from my second bout of flu in 2018 so I think that phone call is going to be the only thing I actually accomplish today) and I got them to take $1600 off that bill, so long as I pay it by the 10th of next month!

So I'm lowering the total goal to $4900 today!

I will keep working on settling accounts for less with whoever allows it. As anyone who's dealt with a hospital stay knows, I don't just have one giant bill but several medium-sized bills. I'm hoping that means that I can chip even more off the total. I'll keep you posted!

Thank you so much for the supportive response. I was pretty down when I realized I couldn't get a PLUS loan to go to school but now I'm more hopeful than ever that I will be able to realize this dream and I owe that to all of you!
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$2,038 of $4,900 goal

Raised by 42 people in 27 days
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