Shuwanna Aaron

Hello, I'm Shuwanna Aaron. I'm 23 years old and currently in my final year reading History at the University of Edinburgh....

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Hello,

My name is Shuwanna Aaron, I am 23 years old and currently completing my fourth and final year reading History at the University of Edinburgh. My journey at University has been filled many hurdles and barriers as well as great opportunities and successes; from being elected to lead student groups, to meeting life-long friends and of course my academic explorations. In these final months, I am equally filled with excitement and worry. Excited to be the first person in my family to complete University; to finally being able to read for leisure again, and to finishing my 12,000-word dissertation titled “An Exploration of Women’s Political Engagement Under Personal Dictatorship in Guyana: Feminists, Socialists and Party Members.’ It seeks to provide insight into how and why women in Guyana (my country of origin) organised for change during a Socialist Dictatorship.

My worry stems from the fact that despite completing all four years of University with consistently good grades, I may not be able to graduate. I am a documented UK resident and have lived here for most of my life, however, several changes to regulations governing the student finance system since 2012 have disentitled me from access to a student loan. There is little to no financial support for students in my position, and although a supreme court ruling has made it possible for some to access a loan, many of us are still disenfranchised. The first change occurred the year I graduated from college and forced me to defer entry until I could find alternative funding. I spent much of that year volunteering and writing letters to charities and trusts, and very optimistically anticipating positive responses. I got very few: often I did not meet the citizenry criteria.I did, however, make it to University in 2013 with the support of extended family and Kids Company, a London-based charity

Kids Company not only supported me at University but also connected me with a support worker and art therapist who gave me the tools to deal with the depression and anxiety that resulted from this and other difficult periods in my life. I will forever be grateful. In the second year of my course my extended family were no longer able to help; soon after Kids Company was forced to close. Panic and worry set in as there was no way for me to afford the cost of university without their support. I set out making more applications for loans and grants, and although they were unsuccessful again and again I was determined not to give up. I had come too far to turn back, but the constant fear that I would be kicked out or have my access to study material terminated, devastated my mental health. I constantly shifted between spells of anxiety and depression, which made it near impossible to focus and perform well at university. I became increasingly withdrawn and demotivated and only with faith and support from my mother and good friends were I able to push through until today.

With only a few months to go and after having exhausted all options open to me, I turn to you to help me raise £44,450.00 to cover the cost of my fees for the last 3 years at University. This includes a £14,000 base cost for fees (annually) in addition to fines added by the University for late payment. Please help me to graduate by donating anything you can.

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