A Cornell University engineering student raised more than $US20,000 this week to stay enrolled at the Ivy League university, student newspaper The Cornell Daily Sun reports.
A recent transfer student from a California community college, Jonah Okike-Hephzibah received a $US40,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship to help pay for his Cornell education. However, he explains on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe, he found out just days before tuition was due that he still owed Cornell thousands of dollars.
“Unfortunately, last Friday, I received notification that I owe Cornell $US14,000; the balance remaining after my scholarship funds were applied,” Okike-Hephzibah writes. “I had thought I could apply my entire scholarship award towards Fall tuition and fees and spend the next few months saving up the earnings from my part-time job and seeking other scholarship opportunities.”
A friend suggested he turn to GoFundMe to help raise the money, according to The Sun. After raising $US14,000 in just a day, Okike-Hephzibah adjusted his goal to $US28,000, to help keep him enrolled for the spring semester as well.
“I haven’t used GoFundMe before, it was kinda just an all or nothing way. I was honestly very hesitant about doing it,” Okike-Hephzibah told The Sun. “I’m definitely not someone who loves attention and everything so I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to go through with it but the circumstances called for a drastic action.”
Okike-Hephzibah describes himself on the GoFundMe page as “a first-generation undocumented minority student from a single-parent home shared with my 5 siblings.”
This is Okike-Hephzibah’s first year at Cornell, transferring to the Ivy League university from Santa Monica College where he, according to the GoFundMe page, “joined clubs, worked on campus, all while maintaining a full time course load and a 4.0 gpa.”
He is set to graduate from Cornell in 2016 with a degree in mechanical engineering, noting on the GoFundMe page his interest in building prosthetic limbs for veterans.
“I am in awe and so humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve received in the last 24 hours,” Okike-Hephzibah wrote after raising the first $US14,000. “I never imagined anything like this was possible and I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your donations and kind words.”
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