When I arrived in the big city to attend New York University back in 1994, I had two suitcases and $200 to my name. I had been accepted to Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program, the most prestigious undergraduate writing program in the country. I had big dreams, eyes filled with stars, and very small pockets.

I worked double shifts at the local Greek diner back in the suburbs of Chicago to cover what tuition and expenses weren't paid by loans, grants and scholarships. That extra $200 was everything I had in the world; I immediately started waitressing forty hours a week, to supplement my financial aid package and make a life in NYC. I remember taking twenty one credit hours my first semester, and sleeping an average three hours per night.

I was eighteen years old, financially independent, and learning how to write in one of the most expensive cities in the world. 

There were days I paid for my subway fare in pennies. I worked hard, ate light, and made it through three years; I even managed to study abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester, at NYU's La Pietra Program. 
Upon my return to the great (and increasingly expensive) NYC, I was told by NYU's Financial Aid Office that I owed tuition and fees which my aid package did not cover. I was unable to earn my degree. On my way home from the Financial Aid Office, I joined the work force as a stage hand at a lighting and stage rental facility in Queens. I figured if I couldn't get a degree in my chosen field, I'd slowly learn the ropes from the ground up. I learned a lot - still, I yearned for that degree. I wished to be immersed in the theory of my area of study, and to study alongside like minded students with similar aspirations and various wonderful talents.

Too often, students with similar stories simply do not have parental support or the means to support their dreams and are left behind. People give up and surrender to careers they don't really love; the world is robbed of talent, and filled with angry and bitter people doing things they hate for money. Precious potential with life altering effects is continually lost to a vicious cycle.
It took me twenty years to earn my degree. In May of 2015, I finally earned my Bachelor's in Mass Communications, from SUNY Oneonta. I did so with more pride and joy than I can possibly express. I loved and valued every minute I spent in my classrooms and on campus. 

During my years at SUNY Oneonta, I founded and grew my production company, Certain Grants Creative, and spearheaded a thriving internship program.

PictureShooting for The Biker Code development reel
I was also a very proud recipient of the Jan Ashley award at SUNY, an opportunity offered to non-traditional students in need of support during the staggeringly expensive university years for those of us without expense accounts. 

In my letter thanking Ms. Ashley for her generosity and general awesomeness, I promised that I would work hard to one day pay it forward. My friends at Burnout Italy made it possible for that day to come sooner than later. Together we have created a $500 opportunity for a student to apply toward living or tuition costs. 

While a $500 award is not enormous, it sure would have helped me to buy train fare, groceries, and books back in 1994. My hope is that we inspire others to reach out in their communities and support a student in need. There are plenty that need it. 

If my story speaks to you, consider sponsoring a student. There are a lot of local banks and even businesses in our communities that would match gifts offered to students in need - get involved, start a fund.

As a business owner that often works with non profit organizations, I know of much need in several critical areas; this is a gentle reminder that our future needs for us to be present, needs our support. 

There is a student out there paying for train fare in pennies that could one day solve the world's energy crisis or find a cure for Parkinson's. 

If you can't afford to donate toward a scholarship fund, donate your talents or time to a student that needs it. As an example, I worked with a wonderful young student some years ago to tell her story to potential donors; meet Eliza. 

Eliza is currently studying Environmental Science at Boston University - she made it to college. So should everyone else who wants to go.

Originally published on June 5, 2016
If you know of a student in need, please share this link: 
Funds will be awarded toward tuition or living expenses.

If you need help starting a scholarship fund for a student in need, email inquiry@certaingrants.com.

Are you a student in need? 
Tell me your story, I'll post follow ups, and happily offer advice about writing grants and scholarships.


    Beatrice Georgalidis runs Certain Grants Creative in the mountains of New York State where she lives with her son, Charlie.


    June 2016