a little more about this project…

Why did you create an EduLender Fundraiser?
I’m working to get my life on track; to make definitive and positive steps.  I’ve been accepted to the Chicago Portfolio School, however due to various life circumstances I’m unable to get a loan to cover my tuition.  It’s frustrating and depressing, seeing your goal – this dream – right across the river, but not having any idea of how to get to the other side.  So I’m letting go of my pride and asking for help through this EduLender Fundraiser.

This is more than “Erini wants to take some classes”.  This is “Erini wants to achieve a dream” and I cannot do it alone.

I was thankful that my last employer took a risk and hired me for a marketing job.  I finally had a job that utilized and valued my design skills.  It was a great experience and I was doing well, but within three months of being hired, the company went under and on Christmas Eve 2010 my coworkers and I were laid off.

Now as I seek employment, I realize that I need to polish my skills and make myself more competitive.  I have gone a long way by being a self-taught designer, but formal training is in order.  Which is where the Chicago Portfolio School comes in.  I have not felt this strongly in my heart that this is where I belong in quite a while.

What have you done to help pay for college and/or your loans yourself?
My undergraduate degree was paid through scholarships, grants, and mostly loans – a debt my family and I are still paying.  In regards to the Chicago Portfolio School, I am searching and applying for scholarships and grants.  I plan on working while in the program, so I can cover my living costs.  I am doing freelance design work; selling art on Etsy.com.

Currently, to save money I have moved in to my dad’s basement.  I am now the 8th person living in this house.  I have chores just like my younger half sisters.  It’s been a big adjustment, but I’m grateful for the space and that dad lives close enough to Chicago that I can still get into the city for interviews.

What’s the weirdest/craziest thing you’ve done to save money or earn a bit extra?
At one point, when things were getting tight, I began buying food at a dollar store.  Choices were limited, and weren’t the best of quality – but it definitely made me be a bit more creative with meals if I wasn’t going to get bored of toast and rice!

How do you promote your Fundraiser page?
I have been reaching out to friends and family, to seek their advice and support.  However, I have turned toward the Internet and social media to promote my fundraiser.  I tweet and blog about my project, and about why it is important to me.  I sent out updates regarding my progress and how this is all affecting me personally.  I post links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and my own personal sites.  I’ve been featured on the 20-Something Bloggers’ sponsored blogroll.

It’s not something I take lightly, asking people for help (especially financial).  However, this dream – this opportunity – is too big for me to just let it slip away.  I can’t do it alone.  I know that when people come together, they can do great things – and I’m hoping people would be willing to help me accomplish this goal.

If you could give one piece of advice to future students about paying for college, what would it be?
School is going to cost a lot. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the state of our educational system.  In many cases, it will take more than just good grades to get scholarships.  Work hard, start saving early on – because even if you decided college isn’t for you, you’ll at least have a nice little chunk of change to help boost you forward.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  And never forget to tell people how grateful you are.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In five years, I will have hopefully settled into a career.  Not a job, but a career doing design and creative work.  This career path might keep me in Chicago, but it may also have me moving away.  If I’m still in Chicago, then I will still be volunteering with my community band, toting my horn across the city.  I will still attend summer concerts at Grant Park, and take breaks by the lake.  I will be facing the challenges head on.  I will get frustrated; I will have bad days.  But I will keep pushing on, because knowing that I’ve gotten this far will be a great reward.

In ten years, I hope to be giving useful advice to aspiring designers and other creative types.  I will have established myself as a designer, and maybe even gotten use to that freelance thing.  Regardless of the career, I would like to have traveled more – visiting various countries and cultures.  I will have finally gone on a shark dive.  I will still be taking friends out on cupcake dates.  I will still walk around with a sketchbook in my bag.  In ten years, I know life might not be perfect – but I will have enjoyed the adventure and ready for the next.

This is from the EduLender Featured Fundraiser, as they help me promote my cause.