Taylor Swift just swooped in and made a young student's ambition to go to university possible, by donating £23,000 to her fundraising page. 18-year-old Vitoria Mario, originally from Portugal, moved to London four years ago to seek a better education. Despite speaking no English when she arrived, she went on to learn the language fluently and recently achieved A*A*A in her A-Levels.
Vitoria was offered a place to study Mathematics at the University of Warwick, but was in a position of uncertainty as to whether she would actually be able to attend, due to her financial circumstances. Vitoria's father has passed away, while her mother remains in Portugal. On a Go Fund Me page, the teenager described "the socio-economic barriers of not being eligible for maintenance loans/grants." Due to her lack of 'Home' status in the UK, she can't access the same loans as others, and because her family is unable to help her self-fund university, being low-income themselves, she wouldn't be able to afford the living costs associated with further education.
Although she sought help from executives in top UK firms (she wrote to 442 different individuals), Vittoria was saddened to have been rejected or ignored by them all. "As desperate times called for desperate measures, I also went to some of the most affluent postcodes in London, including Kensington, to post my story through letterboxes, but unfortunately faced the same response," she wrote on her fundraising page.
With nowhere else to turn, the student decided to share her story on Go Fund Me. Vittoria calculated that she would require, over a four-year course, around £40,000 in all; £24,000 to cover accommodation, £3,000 in equipment like laptop and textbooks, and £13,000 for living costs such as food, transport and bills.
"Though my story is not unique, my dream of becoming a Mathematician is not only a chance at social mobility for my family and I, but to inspire people who have been in similar positions to aspire to be the best version of themselves and strive for their dreams despite gender/racial inequality, immigration issues and financial barriers," Vitoria powerfully wrote.
And her page caught the eye of a certain Taylor Swift. Vitoria had already raised £17,000, but upon reading her story the Folklore singer agreed to donate the rest so that she could hit her target. Writing in the comments, Taylor posted: "Vitoria, I came across your story online and am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality. I want to gift you the rest of your goal amount. Good luck with everything you do! Love, Taylor"
I mean, wow.
As Vitoria pointed out, only 35% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students are female. "In addition to the gender imbalance, there is further under-representation of BAME women, particularly Black women, who are in shortage within the field and academic institutions," she wrote.
What an empowering story to share. We couldn't be any more excited for Vitoria to go get her degree and hopefully go on to achieve her dreams of become a mathematician.
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