Thank You

3 May

I recently learned that the university hires students to write hand-written thank-you notes to donors. It made me thing about how many thousands of dollars in scholarship money I get, and the fact that I couldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that. I wish I could thank every single person who has contributed to my education, but I can’t. But I wanted to write a thank-you, even if they’ll never read it:

Dear alum,

Growing up, school is what I was good at. I was terrible at sports. I wasn’t popular or pretty. I couldn’t play an instrument or speak another language. But darn it, I could write a paper.

I latched onto academia. Throughout my school years, I did everything I could to succeed, taking every Honors class available.

But I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. Towards the beginning of high school, my mom told me they could pay for community college, but anything else was on me. I told her I had worked too hard for too long to go to SCC, but I knew it would be incredibly difficult to go elsewhere.

From the time I was about eight years old, I’ve been a saver. I remember once telling my grandmother to give me gift cards for Christmas/my birthday, because if she gave me cash it would just go straight in the bank. I didn’t have any real expenses, and I didn’t see any reason to spend my money. I started earning my own money by babysitting at twelve, then added tutoring and a part-time job as I got older. I worked hard and saved, but a minimum wage job doesn’t pay for a four-year private education.

I got good grades, I did community service, I earned leadership roles. All those things you’re supposed to do to get into college. I received a scholarship from the state that covered 90% of state school tuition, even at a private school, as long as I stayed in state. This was starting to look possible.

I had a conversation with my dad once where he told me that if I graduated with $20,000 in student loans, I would be fine. But that’s not what’s happening. I’m graduating with no debt. NONE. And that’s thanks to you.

The fact that someone, a complete stranger, chose to donate to my education instead of going on vacation or buying a car or just some new clothes, is unbelievable to me. That someone out there wrote a check and mailed it in with no idea of who it would be going to, just a desire to help, is both crazy and awesome. 

I know I couldn’t do this, couldn’t be here, without all those alumni who write those checks, small and large, that get put in the university’s coffers and then given to students like me. I wish that I could find the people who have contributed to me being here and shake their hands.

This school has been everything I could have hoped for in a university experience. I’ve made friends to last a lifetime. I’ve learned things that challenged me and developed my own viewpoints enough to challenge others. I’ve gone places and tried activities I certainly wouldn’t have expected in August 2009.

I suppose there’s no way to say what my life would have been like if I hadn’t come here. But I certainly know that if I was graduating with the debt i expected, I wouldn’t have the options I do.

Because of the efforts and generosity of complete strangers, I got to come somewhere that ended up being my dream school. And because of that same generosity, I have the financial freedom to chase my dreams after graduation next spring.

So thank you. Thank you so ridiculously much.

Lauren Campbell

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