Seth Owen graduated from high school with a 4.16 GPA and was named co-valedictorian of his class. His hard work in school paid off, and he was accepted into his dream college, Georgetown University.
But before he received all of that good news, he faced quite a bit of hardship. He was forced to leave his parents’ home after they rejected his gay sexuality. His parents gave him an ultimatum: keep attending their church or move out. Owen felt he had no choice but to pack his things and leave.
“The worst part was I was packing my bags, and I was walking out the door, and I was hoping that my mom would stand in my way. I was hoping that she would say ‘I love my child more than I love my religion,’” he told NBC News.
After leaving home and sleeping on friends’ couches, he found out he’d been accepted into Georgetown. The financial package they offered him, however, was based on the assumption that he’d get support from his parents, which he could no longer count on given their estranged relationship. Owen appealed the package, letting the university know his circumstances, but they denied his request to adjust the cost of his tuition.
He was left with no choice but to give up on his dream of attending Georgetown in the fall — until his former biology teacher stepped in.
The teacher, Jane Martin, started a GoFundMe page in an attempt to raise the necessary $20,000 for Owen.
“I know the goal seems unrealistic and the circumstances aren’t ideal, but I also know communities can make the impossible possible,” Martin wrote on the GoFundMe page. “It’s Pride Month and rainbows abound around the world. Help me bring a rainbow in the midst of Seth’s storm.”
Since the page was started in late June, more than $100,000 has been donated. At the time of publication, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $128,581.
NBC News reached out to Georgetown, and while they “cannot comment on any individual case,” the university assured the publication that they do work with students whose financial situations have changed.
“While we cannot comment on any individual case, we work closely with students whose financial circumstances change after admission to modify financial aid assistance and ensure they can still enroll regardless of their ability to pay,” the spokesperson told NBC News.
A Dream Come True
Regardless, Owen has now raised more than enough money to attend his dream school — all thanks to the kindness and support from strangers.
As a thank you to all who donated, Owen filmed a video:
“Every share and donation sends the message that you believe in me and you believe in my potential,” he said. “I am extremely excited to pursue this next chapter of life — so, thank you. Thank you for making that attainable.”
Along with thanking everyone who donated, Owen and Martin also want to encourage people to support similar initiatives.
“While it seems appropriate to shower Seth’s supporters with gratitude (and we are eternally thankful for your support), I instead want to implore you to continue your allyship offline in your own communities. There are voices and stories who deserve to be amplified, uplifted, and supported just as much as Seth’s story,” Martin wrote on the GoFundMe page.
According to NBC News, Owen has plans to join Georgetown University’s class of 2022.