I didn't always attend IU. I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon Church as it's more popularly known, and after I graduated from high school I decided to attend Brigham Young University, the church's University. Going to BYU was a great experience, but it was also one of the most difficult times of my life. It was a time riddled with depression, secrets, and lies for me because in addition to being Mormon I am gay.
Being a gay Mormon at BYU is not easy and for me it proved to be completely overwhelming. After a year, I made the decision to transfer to Indiana University where I felt I would be able to be honest about myself and be generally happier and more fulfilled. (My girlfriend of 1 year at the time [now 3.5 years] who lived in Indiana was also excited about this decision.) When I told my parents about my decision to transfer, they were shocked, disappointed, and angry.
And my parents cut me off.
Since I left BYU, it has been my responsibility to pay for my education. My parents have told me many times that their money is only good at BYU. Their resolve is so strong that they refuse to even co-sign on an educational loan for me to pay my expenses for school.
Last year, I decided to start working full-time to try to earn more money for school. I managed to find a great job, but my expenses still only broke even. During that time I attended community college part time, and it deeply strengthened my resolve to return to my full-time education and complete my degree.
Because I am under 23 years old, I am still required to declare my parents' income on any application for financial aid. This means that the only financial aid I can receive is a Stafford Loan, which is not nearly enough to cover the cost of my education. Despite working more than full time at multiple jobs, I won't be able to afford to return to school this month without help.
I am reaching out to you in hopes that you can help me achieve my dream of finishing school. My goal amount may seem large, but any amount that you can give would help IMMEASURABLY! To put it in perspective, my very first tuition payment is due next week and it's just over $650. Every little bit can help me to at least get to that first tuition payment!
My girlfriend, Hannah, and I have prepared some fabulous prizes for you to say thank you for donating. Even if you aren't in a position to donate right now, please share the link to this page on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or whatever social media site you like best.
Thanks for reading and sharing!
School going great!! My classes are all wonderful, my internship is phenomenal, and I'm getting the chance to TA for a class as well. I cannot thank you all enough for helping me to get here! These amazing opportunities simply would not exist without your generosity. Thank you!
I want to stay in touch with everybody here, so I finally got with the times and started a Twitter account. Follow me to keep up with my continuing adventures! @tessajwilkerson
Thank you everyone for your support!
I am still full of shock and awe that this is even possible. I know I've already said this so many times, but my gratitude to each and every one of you is boundless. When I started this campaign, my biggest hope was that we could maybe raise enough money to help me make my first installment of tuition payments to buy me a little more time to figure out how to stay in school. The fact that I was able to completely pay for a semester all at once is amazing to me and I am so thankful.
Thanks everybody for all the positive and encouraging messages you've been sending! I really appreciate your support!
So please - continue to share the link and donate if you are able! I am so very appreciative of everybody's support so far! I'm SO excited to return to school and be a real student again! Thank you all so much!