Dvorkin On Debt: From Homeless To College

Katie Shotwell became homeless six years ago after her father abandoned the family, her mother went on disability, and her grandmother died. Then Katie developed asthma and needed surgery for a painful skin condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

Katie is the eighth bimonthly winner of the Debt.com Scholarship For Aggressive Scholarship Applicants — but not out of sympathy. Out of bravery.

“This isn’t a ploy to get you to pick me,” Katie wrote in her application letter. “It’s the beginning of an explanation.”

Indeed, when Katie explains her life, she does so without drama. She also refuses to let awful circumstances defeat her.

“I want to start my own business,” Katie says. “I’m going to school for Studio/Fine Art, something I’ve loved and dreamed of doing since I was a child. I want to make a living doing what I love, and I plan on building a name for myself and eventually living off of income made by selling my art, both online and at art conventions.”

Now, as a CPA and personal finance counselor, I’m not in the habit of endorsing a college student’s career plans to become an artist. However, my skepticism is tempered by her commitment and her knowledge that she’ll need to work other jobs…

It’ll take a lot of work to get to that point, and I know that I’ll have to work another job while I build up enough of a following and get my name out there, but that’s my goal. And I plan on making it a reality.

Of course, the Debt.com scholarship seeks to reward those who apply for other scholarships. While Katie hasn’t won any scholarships, she’s applied for plenty.

“While living in a car with severe medical issues, I self-taught myself through high school,” she says. “Yet because my GPA fell short .05 from a 2.5 GPA, I don’t qualify for many different scholarships. My academic achievements mean nothing to them, because I wasn’t an overachiever in their eyes.”

She’s an overachiever in mine, which is why I’m sending her $500.

Do you need $500? Apply for the Debt.com Scholarship For Aggressive Scholarship Applicants. The next round opens Wednesday, but you can apply anytime.

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