Operation: Graduate

$8,605 of $6,000 goal

Raised by 131 people in 37 months
Tessa Wilkerson   INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Hi everyone! My name is Tessa and I'm going into my senior year at Indiana University studying Arts Management. Or, at least, I'm hoping to. But I won't be able to do it without YOUR help!

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!
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Update 7
36 months ago
We were in the news! The Indiana Daily Student, IU's student run newspaper, ran a FRONT PAGE story about my Go Fund Me campaign. Check it out here: http://idsnews.com/news/story.asp?id=93729

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!
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Update 6
36 months ago
Hi everybody! Today I'm packing to move down to Bloomington - TOMORROW!! I would not be here without your generosity and so I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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!
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Update 5
37 months ago
I just paid my Fall tuition bill. In full.

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!
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Update 4
37 months ago
Hi everybody! I wanted to let you all know that I've decided to increase the overall goal of this campaign to my personal stretch goal of $12,000. This additional goal will help me to pay back the personal loans that I mentioned in my thank-you video (see below). It will also allow me to purchase textbooks and pay bills such as monthly electric.

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!
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$8,605 of $6,000 goal

Raised by 131 people in 37 months
Created August 1, 2013
$50
Anonymous
35 months ago
$50
Anonymous
35 months ago
PB
$75
Parag Bhayani
35 months ago
1
1
TH
$25
Teresa Housel
36 months ago
1
1

I wish you all the best with your studies!

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EE
$200
Eve Evens
36 months ago
1
1

When I came out as a lesbian in Highschool my parents kicked me out. My brother helped me with my tuition all throughout college. I'm just paying it forward.

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BS
$100
Bill Shipton
36 months ago
1
1

I was so moved by the story in today's IDS. I retired after 40 years at IU. Among other things I was on the GLBT Student Support Services Advisory Board and for years co-chaired IU's GLBT Anti-Harassment Team. Best of luck to you and your partner. You sound amazing!

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LP
$75
Luis Puga
36 months ago

Good luck on your senior year!

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$10
Anonymous
36 months ago
TC
$100
Thomas Cooprider
36 months ago (Offline Donation)
$15
Ally Sheehan
36 months ago

Good luck lovely, you deserve this!

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