My name is Catherine Kelly. I am 22 years old, born and raised in Middlesbrough UK. Last year I achieved a First Class degree in 2013 from Canterbury Christ Church University in American Studies.
Knowing that I wanted to work within education, I spent 3 months between August and November volunteering in a school for children with Special Needs in Thailand. I knew that I needed to go above and beyond to get in to some of the top schools of education in the USA to study a Master's Degree in International Education Policy and Management.
Since February I have received an offer from the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League university) and Vanderbilt University (the no1 university for education in the USA) - universities that I could never have dreamed of attending 3 years ago. Starting in August I will begin my Master's degree in International Education Policy and Management at Vanderbilt Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee with the hope of starting a career in non-profit education within the developing world.
Since February I have sent out numerous letters and emails in the hope of receiving some form of financial aid to pay for my tuition. I have been let down in every single attempt. It has taken me a whole year to be accepted in to this college and God has opened this door for me, I know that I can find a way to complete it.
Here is the breakdown of the course and what I will be studying.
My tuition for 2 years comes to $48,000. Or £33,000. I have £16,000 in personal funds from an inheritance I received last year that will just about pay for my first years tuition. However, I have no means by which to pay for my 2nd year.
Here is a 'mission statement' of WHY I am studying this course, and what has led me to the position I currently find myself.
On July 19th 2013 I am set to fly out to Nashville Tennessee to begin my Masters Degree at Vanderbilt Peabody College - the no1 graduate school of education in the USA to study International Education Policy and Management.
Everybody has a passion, and I believe that everybody has a purpose. My passion is for people and education and I believe that my purpose is to bring basic, sustainable, skilled education to children who would otherwise never have the opportunity to attend school.
It was not until I took a risk in my own life and decided to volunteer in a school for children with special needs in Pattaya, Thailand that my heart truly grasped the importance of education in the developing world. I visited and met with several organizations of education that taught me how much of a diverse and intricate role that education plays in children’s lives depending on their upbringing.
In the school where I focused most of my time, I worked one on one with a 7 year old boy called Junt Jant who was attending the school on a scholarship. He had cerebral palsy and had never attended school before. He lived in a 3 story street house and up until last August had only spent 1 morning each week in a school-like environment - an orphanage and school called the Fr Ray Foundation. Attending school made Junt Jant the happiest boy I have ever seen. Whilst volunteering at the Fr Ray Foundation for a few weeks I discovered that there were only 100 public schools for children with special needs in Thailand - and over 1 million children with special needs. Those statistics broke my heart.
At the church I attended I met a couple from the USA who had moved to Pattaya in 2012 to open a Safe House for children who had been trafficked. I had dinner with them and the children one night and they were asking me about education - they had an 18 year old girl living there who had special needs. She had never been to school and had been sold by her mother when she was 11 years old. The children living at Thrive Rescue Home had the most incredible dreams for their future, they wanted to become doctors and teachers, but it is crucial that the school they attend is a safe place for them. I would love to one day work along side safe house’s to bring education specifically for the rehabilitation of children who have been rescued from slavery.
During the school half-term I travelled around Cambodia - doing a lot of the tourist attractions I noticed that most of the tours were given by young children. I later learned that if they make enough money during the day their parents might let them attend school on an evening. I visited a non-profit school for street children in Siem Reap called Global Child. There, I met with the head teacher and he told me that the effects of the Khmer Rouge Regime were still affecting the country today. This school had to PAY the children’s parents a dollar each day as an incentive to allow their children to attend the school. Imagine that. A country that had completely been turned upside down - taught to fear education. Instead the parents send their children on to the streets to beg for money because all they’re hoping for is to make enough money to eat that day.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 171 million people can lift themselves out of poverty if all students in poor countries acquired reading skills.
As well as providing a cure for communities economically, education is seen as being the “social vaccine” to health issues, particularly in Africa. Again, according to the United Nations, ‘almost all school age children are free of HIV infection even in the worst affected countries. Since HIV/AIDS is entirely preventable, these children present a ‘window of hope’ into the future: if they could grow up free of infection they would change the face of the epidemic within a generation..It begins with education.
When I first decided to work in Pattaya, I didn’t expect to have my heart broken as much as it was. I could never have dreamed to meet the people that I did. But that is the great thing about taking risks and immersing yourself in a country and a culture that is completely unfamiliar. That is why I decided to study my Masters degree in the USA - because the greatest things happen when you take a risk and drop out of your comfort zone. You meet people that you would never imagine meeting and you see things from a completely different perspective. You discover things about yourself and the world, that you would never have noticed otherwise.
The course that I am studying, as well as being the top course of its kind in the USA, also has links to large NGO’s such as UNESCO and the World Bank, and lots of small non-profit charities for education in the developing world. A lot of past students have ended up starting their own charities and NGOs in the focus of education in the developing world.
I would like to focus my research on non-profit education. I hope to one day play a large part in eliminating poverty, slavery and preventable disease.
To anybody who would like to help fund my tuition - I will be forever grateful! I would love to get in touch with you to send a thank you gift!