My name is JJ and I am a graduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in social work. I need financial assistance to finish my degree that I had to postpone because I was in an abusive relationship that left me completely destitute, homeless, and fearing for my life.
After graduating summa cum laude and with honors from GSU where I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology in December 2013, I was fortunate to be hired as a utilization manager for a great company. I was learning so much and doing so well that within a year I began making plans to start my own business.
In December 2014, I took a loan against my house to start a non-profit counseling agency that helped disadvantaged children in Jonesboro and Macon. The goal of the agency was to provide free psychoeducational support to kids who were struggling behaviorally and academically.
Taking a comprehensive approach to counseling, I worked with different counseling agencies to incorporate programs that provided free afterschool and summer camp programs for kids and free counseling for parents who could not afford those programs. Not only did the kids get more out of school, but we also helped them build social skills and we provided tutoring and group support.
In January 2015, I enrolled at USC for an accelerated online degree in social work. My goal was to earn my degree as quickly as possible so I could provide free counseling to the kids who were not enrolled in counseling services because they did not have any insurance. It was the start of one of the best journeys of my life because I was doing something I really loved while going to school and raising my daughter.
Unfortunately, right after I started school in January 2015, the abusive relationship I had been in for nine years became violent and the frequency of the abuse escalated. For years I had struggled with the desire to raise my daughter in a two-parent family and the desire to flee my abuser. I did not know how to remove myself from the toxic environment in which I was living; I stayed because I thought it was my only option. I had seen single parents struggling to make ends meet and I did not know how was I supposed to go to school and work without someone to be there for my daughter. I stayed until I could not be a punching bag anymore and I was scared for my daughter’s safety. So I chose to be homeless to protect myself and my daughter. We stayed with friends and moved every time my abuser found out where we were living.
Even in the midst of the physical abuse, homelessness, and emotional turmoil I went through during that semester, I managed to maintain an A average. I could not, however, enroll the following semester because I did not have the stability or the financial means to pay for school.
I currently have approximately $17,000 in student loans and cannot afford to continue pursuing my degree. When I fled my abuser, I had to quit my job and I lost my business because I could not go anywhere without being scared for my life and I was constantly in hiding. I also ended up losing my house because I could no longer make the payments.
Last summer I managed to move away from the area where I used to live and have been working two jobs to make ends meet and raise my daughter. Even working as hard as I am, there is no way to come up with the kind of money I need to pay the university to pursue my degree. I cannot even afford to quit one job to look for something better because I am still trying to make payments on past bills and keep up on current bills.
I feel like I am so close to achieving my goal, but the harder I try, the further it moves away from me. I have a strong desire to go back to school, but I realize I am not able to do it by myself. Although it is hard for me to ask for help, I am asking you to please help me raise money to pay my debts so I can go back to school as soon as possible.
Your help will not only help me earn a degree, but it will also allow me to provide a better life for my daughter and countless other kids once I graduate. So please, there is no small contribution; anything you give will help.