Appalachian Student Trying to Make Ends Meet

Appalachian Student Trying to Make Ends Meet

From Sarah Wilde

Hi everyone! I started this fundraiser to help me get through my Wildlife Conservation bachelor program with Unity College. I don't come from money, so my resources are very limited.

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When I first moved to California in 2017, I was 25 and had big plans. I've worked with animals (mostly dogs) since 2014 and started a small pet sitting business by 2018. It was the first time I really felt like I'd accomplished something because I hadn't gone to college. But you know how they always say it takes about two years for a new business to really start growing revenue? Well, Covid-19 had other plans. 

By May 2020, I had no clients for the rest of the year. After spending a couple of months in isolation with no work and no money, I decided to go back to school that August. I'd spent several weeks watching Jeff Corwin reruns on the Discovery Channel and found myself thinking, why am I not doing that? (He's a wildlife biologist).

After completing my Associates degree in Physical Science/Mathematics at a local community college this past summer, I planned to transfer to Cal Poly Humboldt to get my Bachelor's in Wildlife Conservation this fall. Turns out, the Universe had other plans for me again. Ultimately, I couldn't afford the move or find reasonable housing, so I had to reroute and find an accredited wildlife bachelor program online. 

In addition to having to change my education course, I had to leave the apartment I'd been in for the last 2.5 years due to gentrification. I had to downsize tremendously and am paying for a storage unit for what doesn't fit in my new apartment -- stuff that normal people would be able to fit in their shed or a closet.

When I was in community college, classes were mostly free because of my poverty-level, but a bachelor program from a private college costs more and doesn't have as many financial resources. What I've borrowed from student loans barely covers the cost of my classes, leaving me in a situation where I'm now transitioning from being self-employed to applying for warehouse jobs to guarantee I make enough money. Finding a job that works with my school schedule has not been easy, and I've had to turn down several jobs due to location or schedule conflicts.

I haven't shared this fundraiser with my friends or family, mostly out of shame, but also because none of my friends or family have much to spare, either. I set up a GoFundMe in 2020 after all my clients cancelled their trips, and that was hard enough. It's embarrassing to be in this same situation again, only two years later. Only difference is now I'm in college, leaving me with even less time to work. 

All I've ever wanted is to be financial stable and have a job that provides more than just food on the table for a week. Caring for animals and protecting our environment is my passion, and by getting this degree I want to make a difference in how humans and wildlife co-exist. Not only that, but I want to give back to my parents who tried their best to take care of us kids with very little income in the foothills of Appalachia.

I have an elderly cat and middle-aged dog that rely on me for everything so packing up and living in my car isn't an option, otherwise I would do it. Right now, I have accrued over $3,000 in credit card debt in order to pay for my bills, my 20-mile-move, and food for my girls and myself while I sort things out. My food stamps have been cancelled until I land a job (cause that's logical, right?), so I'm getting scared -- fast. 

I am hoping my story resonates with others who have been through a similar struggle. All donations will go directly to my bills, student loans, and keeping myself and my pets healthy until I get back on my feet. It is not easy for me to ask for money, and I can't imagine why any stranger would want to donate to me, but I'm going to give it a shot. 

Thanks for reading,

Sarah, Willow, and Carbon

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