$10K raised to keep Nigerian student at Vanderbilt

$10K raised to keep Nigerian student at Vanderbilt (Image 1)

A Vanderbilt University graduate school student, on the brink of having to leave school due to financial problems, is back in class Tuesday.

With just a few days to raise the money, classmates, and even strangers pitched in to help keep Ayodele Sonupe's dream alive.

Sonupe found out about a week ago he would not be able to pay his first semester tuition because money from family members fell through, as did a loan from Nigeria.

Sonupe couldn't find any loans in the United States and said he had resigned himself to packing up and going back home.

“I was very devastated,” said Sonupe, “I was missing out on a lot of school work and at that point, I didn't even care anymore because I didn't think I'd ever finish any of those assignments.”

One night, fellow classmate Armen Henderson said he offered Sonupe a ride home and the issue of tuition came up.

“When he told me what happened, I was immediately brain storming things we could do,” Henderson told Nashville's News 2, “By the time we got to his house, I said maybe we can have some students come together and help you out.”

That small idea quickly took off, as other students got involved.

“One of my classmates said there's a situation going on and he needed to raise money and it exploded,” explained student Megan Eberhard, “We all knew it was just a matter of a few dollars stopping him from his education and his dream.”

Last Tuesday, Henderson set up a campaign to raise $10,000 for Sonupe on a Web site called Crowdtilt.com.

The Web site gives anyone the ability to organize a grassroots online campaign to raise money.

Henderson told Nashville's News 2, “Actually, when I started it, I didn't think it was going to even work. It was just kind of an idea that I had.”

But within hours, donations immediately came pouring in.

“It went quick,” said business school student Garrott Herbert, “I was checking in between class, it's like 90%, 92%, 94%, 100%.”

“I actually sent an email to my mom and my boyfriend and they chipped in more than I did,” added Eberhard, “So it spread so quickly.”

It only took about 24 hours to complete the $10,000 goal and keep Sonupe in school.

“It's a big thank you and it's a big relief. God bless everybody,” said Sonupe, who added he is humbled by peoples' generosity.

Sonupe also told Nashville's News 2, “[Vanderbilt is] a great place and makes me so excited to be a part of this school.”

“There's power in numbers and people really care,” said Henderson, “So it was a good effort, definitely.”

Sonupe said he's still working on figuring out tuition for next semester.

In the meantime, he plans to make the most out of this opportunity.

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