The lovely lady in the photo is my mother. I'm Kate, and her name is Mary Ann. Seven years ago, she was enrolled as a student at Ellis College of NYIT, one semester away from graduating with her bachelor's degree after two decades of raising, homeschooling and preparing me for college, while working at my dad's small business and various odd jobs. Then, just as she was about to register for her last semester, the financial aid office announced that someone in the office had failed to submit her financial aid documents in time, and she was now on the line for the cost of the last semester and barred from registering for the new one. I was 19, and could only watch helplessly as she received "no" after "no" and finally stopped trying to fight the decision. She had to drop out. She quietly said that God would open another door for her one day, then she put on her soldier's face and moved on with life.
For the past seven years, it has been one of my life's most important goals to help my mother go back to school. But as a graduate student, I have been up to my eyeballs in financial difficulty myself. About a month ago, I discovered that this coming academic year (2012-2013) is the last year in which former students of Ellis College can get their degrees. The College has been closed and faculty relocated to Ellis University and back to NYIT's brick-and-mortar school. Ellis students now are eligible to take classes online via Empire State College, SUNY, to make up any missing credits and earn their degrees. But after June 2013, that won't be true anymore. This is therefore my last year to try to help my mother go back to school.
My mother's parents weren't big believers in girls going to college, so they gave money to her brothers but not to her. But my mother is stubborn. My father says it's our Polish heritage. My mom is the kind of person who will make this world a better place or die trying, and even then come back and haunt it until the job is done. She worked her way through an A.S. in Computer Science and graduated all by herself in 1978. And she never let anything stand in the way of her daughter (me) going to school. I want to return her investment in me. I want her to know that she is still worth it.
The trouble is, I'm still a grad student. No matter how I push the numbers around, I can't quite make it work. The number attached to this story is the amount it will take for me to pay off her debt from that last semester. I have a letter from NYIT that guarantees she will be readmitted and allowed to graduate with her bachelor's degree this year if I can pay the bill.
I haven't told my mother that I'm looking into this yet. I don't want to get her hopes up and find out that I can't follow through. Will you help me bring her dream back to life and give this story a happy ending?