Tuesday, May 4, 2010

my collection

I have a collection. It's a collection that grows at a pretty steady pace throughout the semester. And as it grows, it clutters the top right hand drawer of my desk. It's a collection of letters from students asking for work in exchange for a scholarship to help them pay for food.

My collection is not unique. A few weeks ago, UAC-CP Director Fr. Freddy pulled open his top desk drawer to show me his own collection of letters. And I know that my colleagues: UAC-CP staff, faculty, and volunteers also have similar stashes.

An example of a typical letter is this one I most recently received on April 11th:*

Ms. Sarah,

First, I'd like to greet you and wish you much success in all the work that you do for the benefit of others.

The reason for this letter is to request a scholarship so that I can participate in the food cooperative. The financial resources of my parents are not sufficient to help me pay all of my monthly tuition and, for that reason, I'm unable to afford the food cooperative.

My family consists of six brothers and sisters--four of whom are in high school. For my dad, it's really hard to support them all. He is a subsistence farmer and does what he can to support me, but his income doesn't allow for me to afford my studies and food.

It's for this reason that I very humbly ask you for a scholarship for food so that I can continue with my studies. Within me exists a great interest and desire to study and improve myself so that someday I will be able to help my family and others to improve their lives.

I am very thankful for all the blessings I receive, so I have a lot of faith that I will receive a favorable response. It would be a wonderful support to my parents who want to see me succeed, but are unable to help with the entire costs. I hope that your collaborative spirit will help me. May God guide and bless you in everything.


Many of us who work here at the College look for jobs that students can do, and sometimes we just help students with special situations outright--scholarships with no strings attached. In the case of some academic departments, I've known professors to pool their money together to support students they know need financial help. Some UAC-CP employees, who receive modest salaries themselves, sponsor students. I have a couple students that I help--and they, in exchange, help me with office tasks and chores.

Sometimes, the demand for help here can feel a bit overwhelming--especially when I open my top drawer to face a pile of letters detailing need. With recent cuts in scholarship assistance from long-time partners, I know that just as the needs of our students will grow, so will my collection.

Thankfully we have help from people who make it all somehow come together. Like people who donate to Carmen Pampa Fund's Scholarship Partners Program, or the UAC-CP graduates who have formed a joint account to donate to a scholarship fund, and my co-workers here at the College who make a great personal and financial sacrifice to help students.

Ideally, I'd like to rid myself of my collection. To know that my empty desk drawer means that we are successfully providing higher education to our students...on a full stomach.

*My translation from Spanish to English.

1 comment:

marcee said...

That story just breaks my heart. How much money does it take to help these kids roughly?