Valley teenager creates scholarship to help teachers struggling with debt
CHANDLER, AZ — A Valley high school student is giving back to teachers struggling with student debt through a service project that could now become a regular scholarship.
For many Valley educators, the uncomfortable conversation about debt circles a number in their mind. The suffocating feeling of having to owe money while earning interest can be a constant overwhelming state.
“I think I have eight years of loan repayment and you really don’t see a gap,” Sara Ocampo said.
Sara is a speech therapist excited to pursue her career helping young minds become great communicators, but the fluency needed to get her job leads her to use her skills in a second job for a private company.
One of the main challenges for Sara is trying not to pass the burden of debt onto her loved ones.
“I think the first thing is just guilt,” Sara said.
Debt worries aren’t lost on Sara’s daughter, Jadyn.
At age 17, Jadyn sought to ease some of the burden of debt through her Basha High School senior service project by establishing a scholarship for educators in the valley.
“Student debt is an issue that affects so many teachers,” Jadyn said.
Thanks to a crowdfunding account, Jadyn said she never worried about fundraising. She said she would post and share it as many times as needed to reach her original goal of $1,000.
His main concern was whether any teachers would apply.
Turns out that wasn’t much of a problem either, as Jadyn said after two weeks her scholarship had 34 applicants. The ambitious teenager said she really wanted to raise $34,000 to give to each teacher.
The application process asked Valley teachers to state why they needed financial assistance. Jadyn said most educators said they had second jobs, one winner was working at a fast food restaurant. Another teacher was unable to work due to an injury sustained while training for the Olympics. And others shared a positive view of students despite debt challenges.
With a pair of balloons and one of those oversized checks, Jadyn approached seven teachers to hand-deliver $4,200 in scholarships.
She was able to give three checks for $1,000 and four checks for $300 to teachers.
In a recorded video, a teacher reacted after learning by saying “I don’t even know what to do right now, like, is this real?”
The scholarship was meant to be a one-time project, but the money kept pouring in after a national network shared the story.
Jadyn expects them to do another round of scholarships next month.
“I’m so incredibly proud of her for seeing a need and finding a way to meet it,” Sara said.
Later this week, Chandler Unified School District trustees will honor Jadyn for her senior service project.
Her father, Al, is a physical education teacher at Basha.
The scholarship is called “Al and Laurie Ocampo Scholarship”, named after his grandparents who were also educators.
Jadyn still has a GoFundMe online to help with more scholarships.