I am a Junior at the School of General Studies of Columbia University* and I am the happy beneficiary of multiple merit-based scholarships with a GPA of 3.7 so far, and twice listed on the Dean’s Honor List in the past year. However, the rising costs of tuition and other mandatory fees (including my housing on campus) combined with the suspension of one federal program (Perkins Loan) engender an unexpected hardship that could jeopardize the completion of my degree scheduled in May 2020. If some of you can contribute to my campaign to raise the money I need to hit the last milestones, I will be more than grateful, every donation even the smallest one being a decisive step to address this complicated moment.
For those who are not familiar with the School of General Studies, it is a highly selective liberal arts college and one of the undergraduate colleges of Columbia University within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (admission rate in 2016 when I entered was of 6.7%). This college of 1,800 non-traditional students founded 70 years ago is a unique place at the Ivy League where accomplished professionals, athletes, veterans, artists or entrepreneurs spend four years to deepen their knowledge and practice before they return to their careers or engage in a new phase of their lives. A few notable alumni of the School of General Studies are Isaac Asimov, J. D. Salinger, Federico García Lorca, Leonard Cohen, Anthony Perkins or Howard Dean.
I guess many of my classmates acknowledge that you do not need a degree to succeed in your life or to be happy, since we often met with success and found reasons to be grateful for our lives. This is indeed the reason why many have found their way to the School of General Studies, which far beyond its demanding degrees, challenge non-traditional students and experienced professional with the highest requirements in the academic world and the current issues its best experts explore, along with the mechanisms of the most complex and elaborate ways to think about the world of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
My Successes and Challenges
Born in France, I signed my first papers in news magazines when I was 18, after three years of involvement in a humanitarian organization for children, I specialized in portraits then domestic and international politics, and I published three biographies and wrote as a ghostwriter a dozen books, some of them for very well-known personalities. Engagement, writing, witnessing and friendship have been the cardinal points of my life. After a “perfect storm” dramatically disrupted my personal life from 2000 to 2006, I emigrated to the United States in 2007 where I managed a team of 110 collaborators during nine years for a successful e-commerce company. The year of the big upgrade was 2016, when I was offered admission at Columbia University and invested my assets to take up one of the biggest challenges of my life, so far a success story despite the current bumps on the road.
Keeping a Roof on My Head
To complete the scholarships that cover 70% of my needs, I work as a Research Assistant and as a Journalist for the Program Alliance of Columbia University, the joint academic program in collaboration with three major French academic institutions, Science Po, Ecole Polytechnique, and Sorbonne-Pantheon. I complete this source of income with my work with animals, another passion of mine. The amount I still need to complete is an average of $6,000 per semester for the next 18 months, a large part of this amount being imputable to my bedroom on the campus – a necessity to keep up my 60 hours of studies and 25 hours at work every week – and the health insurance.
If anything in my story resonates with your own story or feels genuine and worthy of a cause to donate, I cannot thank you enough for your support.
* I am focusing on History, with specialization in terrorism and counter-terrorism, civil wars, insurgencies, modern warfare and peace-building, and Political Science, with specialization in the United States and International Relations.