Vanderbilt University Student Raises Close to $50,000 to Stay in School After Family Troubles

Cassie Wessely 1

A Vanderbilt University student by the name of Cassie Wessely launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe earlier this month to raise funds to stay in the Nashville based university to finish her biomedical engineering degree.

Vanderbilt University

Following her mother’s death, Wessely was informed that due to her mother’s lack of state residential custody, she was unable to receive financial aid to continue her schooling. Not only was this an issue, her father, who lives in Chicago, lost his job several months ago and is unable to help her through this difficult time.

Hoping her story would inspire others, Wessely took to the crowdfunding platform asking for only $25,000 and within 18 days, she raised $48,406 from 1,101 backers. Explaining the situation, Wessely wrote on the campaign’s website, “My name is Cassie, I am nineteen and I am a student at Vanderbilt University. I worked extremely hard in high school and since Vanderbilt only had a 12 percent acceptance rate last year, I was humbled and thrilled to be accepted.”

“Unfortunately, just 3 weeks before I started my first year of college, my mom took her life. It was a difficult year for me but I did my best to persevere. Now with my second year approaching, I just learned three days ago that without my mom having residential custody, I no longer am going to get any financial aid.”

“Even with my college fund, my summer work savings, a scholarship and a student loan, I am still short of $24,000 for this year’s tuition. To make things worse, my father has been unemployed for months now and has no immediate job prospects.”

Cassie Wessely 2

“It is extremely difficult for me to request help, but more bearable than the thought of losing a dream I worked and continue to work so hard for. I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering in hopes of contributing to major medical advancement. I will be eternally grateful if through your contributions I can still make this happen. I’m praying daily for a miracle.”

During a recent interview with TODAY, Wessely stated, “There are really no words to say how thankful I am. It was not something I was expecting. I feel so blessed. When I saw $5 donations, I knew that was from people who didn’t have the money to give, but they gave anyway.”

Explaining how much it meant for her to be at Vanderbilt, Wessely noted, “It was kind of a desire to be able to do what I wanted to do without anything holding me back. I wanted to have something in my life that I was able to control. I could control how I was doing in school.”

The campaign attracted so many backers that even Douglas L. Christiansen, Vanderbilt’s Vice Provost for Enrollent and Dean of Admission told TODAY, “We have been made aware of the student’s online initiative and are reaching out to her to determine to what extent her financial situation might have changed.

With this funding, Wessely will be heading back to Vanderbilt to start her sophomore year on August 20th.

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