My name is Felix Aleobua and I am a hard-working student that was forced to drop out of business school due to financial misfortune.
I created this GoFundMe to help clear my pending international student debt. I currently have an outstanding debt of $56,278.12 and have been served final notice by both the university and a collection agency. Due to being laid off during COVID, it has been extremely difficult to make debt payments. I am currently on Canadian Employment Insurance (EI) of $2,060 per month and the university has asked me to make a minimum payment of $4,000 per month. I made a $500 payment ahead of April 1st, 2021 but come May 1st, 2021, I will not be able to make the payment. If I miss another monthly debt payment, my file will be officially handed to the collection agency which at this rate will lead to me declaring bankruptcy.
I would like to raise a subtotal minimum of $56,278.12 but to cover the GoFundMe fees (2.9% + $0.3 per transaction), the total minimum I have to raise is $58,778.84. This is to clear the debt and any additional donations will go towards helping me finish an MBA with my completed credits (~$71,900*).
Part 1: Humble Beginnings
I grew up in a low-income neighborhood called Sunnyside in Pretoria, South Africa. No-name groceries, sleeping on bunk beds, and sharing everything is the kind of life I came from. I always had a passion for business and you would find me on the playground trading game cards. The ethical trade of value excited me and I knew one day I would like to do this on a much bigger stage. Fast forward a couple of years, I was given an educational grant to study in North America. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was more than willing to work for it.
Part 2: Opportunity
After achieving an A- average in my final semesters of my B.Sc. and B.Comm. degrees and a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) job, I found myself stuck. Despite my A- average and CPG experience, I couldn’t land a job interview. The age-old saying “A Masters Degree is the new Undergraduate Degree” dawned on me and I revisited the dream of doing an MBA. While getting multiple job application rejections, I got an email from Canada’s top business school: Schulich School Of Business. The email was about a new program and upon reading all the requirements, I was a strong candidate but couldn’t afford the $75,000 international student tuition. The only possibility of making the finances work was having a successful Permanent Residency (PR) application so I would be considered a domestic student allowing me access to student financial assistance and domestic student tuition. I already had a PR application in progress with all the necessary documentation so I was confident everything would work out fine. I applied for the program, received an acceptance, and embarked on the final stage of my education.
Part 3: Business School
I will never forget the excitement I had walking through the doors of Schulich and thinking “I have arrived at the world stage of business”. Not only would I be learning from the renowned lecturers but upon completion, I would significantly improve my chances for employment. When I arrived, I could not afford the living expenses so I opted to sleep on a pull-out couch and live out of my suitcase however, I did exceptionally well at Schulich. My grades were again at an A- level, I was on the student council and a semi-finalist in Canada’s largest marketing student competition. Beyond excelling within myself, I assisted everyone around me in doing the same by facilitating discussions in lectures and helping others with assignments, job interviews, etc. For a moment it seemed as if my lack of socioeconomic standing could be compensated by academic effort and frankly, I had never felt more alive in my life.
Part 4: Permanent Residency
A few months into the program I received a letter from Immigration Canada: My PR application had been denied. I still remember the concern on my classmates' faces as they watched hope drain from me. The reason stated by the Immigration Officer was that they didn’t have enough information regarding one section and made an interpretation that I didn’t meet the requirement. What breaks my heart until this day is that their interpretation didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt nor did they request additional documentation to avoid having to interpret. I had supplementary documentation ready and one clarification email from the Immigration Officer could have changed the trajectory of my entire life. Months later I was quickly granted PR upon reapplication but by then it was too late, I was forced to drop out of the program.
Part 5: The Plan
Amid the devastating news, I was able to pull off the impossible: I landed an MBA internship at Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson. MBA internships are highly exclusive and competitive opportunities for candidates at top business schools to impress top companies for full-time employment upon graduation. As a non-MBA student, coming from a brand new program with no previous track record and dropping out of that program… it was a near-impossible task but my competence prevailed. Now not only could I afford to start making student debt payments as an intern, if I converted to full-time employment… I would have fully paid off the debt in under 2 years.
Part 6: Job Insecurity
I was able to overcome one tragedy but fate would have it that tragedy would strike again. The first two months of the internship were stable and then there was a bad case of mental illness affecting my immediate family. It was so bad that I would come home to physical abuse and my property being thrown onto the apartment balcony. It wasn’t an environment I could bring work home to or have the ability to fully concentrate at work. Despite the circumstances, I did well at Janssen. I was able to analyze data in ways that hadn’t been done before and find a $14.4M sales opportunity in the data. This not only warranted the interest from managers across different departments, but the Executive Directors were also interested to read and attend my final presentation. Despite doing everything I could, I was not offered full-time employment. Shortly after this, I was rendered homeless, I entered the travel industry only to be laid off a few months later due to COVID-19. I have been on EI for almost a year until this very day.
Sharing these details has not only been embarrassing, it has also been painful. If you know me, you know that I believe I can overcome any obstacle and rarely seek help doing so. It’s probably a shock to my classmates and colleagues reading this because I’ve kept this bad fortune to myself and given off a public image that everything is okay. My competence has helped me resolve the PR, create a stable home environment and gain brief employment, however... I have simply run out of time to pay the university and collection agency.
My aspiration has always been to set an example of black excellence, foster diversity within boardrooms, and show that through sheer effort, almost anything is possible. Though I wholeheartedly believe that effort is 90% of the job, I humbly ask that you be my 10% of luck. Any contribution or sharing my story will go a long way.
If you are/know a recruiter, you can find more about me here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/felixaleobua/.
Thank you for your consideration.
*Schulich Domestic MBA (Textbooks & Living Expenses Not Included) https://schulich.yorku.ca/admissions/tuition-fees-costs/
Letters Of Support
Schulich Executive Director - Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
I had the pleasure of meeting Felix Aleobua as a member of the Schulich Startups community. He introduced himself early in his program and has participated in several of our activities from Pitch Competitions to Speaker Series. His startup project was always interesting to watch develop and I know he will make our Schulich Startups community proud one day. I hope he can raise the funds to return for an MBA.
Management Consultant, Schulich Sessional Instructor - International MBA Program
I had the pleasure of teaching Felix Aleobua in MGMT 5100 Business Decision Making. He most impressed me with his positive attitude and his inquisitiveness. Felix was always curious about every aspect of the class material which was evident in the superb group project that his team submitted.
Schulich Associate Professor of Marketing
I taught Felix Aleobua in my MKTG 5200 Marketing Management course. I recall him making significant contributions to classroom discussions and being a great presenter. I could tell that he has a passion for business and is likely to become a great leader one day.
Schulich MBA - Class of 2020
I met Felix in the hallways of Schulich and later realized that we were both heading to the Janssen MBA Internship program. He has a natural charisma so we were able to quickly build comradery with the other MBA interns. As we were both new to pharmaceuticals, we frequently shared thoughts and strategies as we learned. I would have loved to keep working with him and sure he will be successful in future roles.
Schulich Transcript https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NAtlq_g4BrEBbsiOSwXygcaJcOhY-mEF/view?usp=sharing
PR Rejection Letter https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RNL6uOEr_k1h_EDstC5FuTsLW4UrV7fn/view?usp=sharing
Student Account Overdue https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fto68mYuMUxWOMRB3dHyT_KRrUKE4ub6/view?usp=sharing
Collection Agency Letter https://drive.google.com/file/d/1v5w8eV4Tr93-XoxfKr6mPwMEY6Rb8lYB/view?usp=sharing
Pictures of Schulich https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1nn4x4FUI_fpDvyYA78vHUcicOWabY9pb?usp=sharing
Pictures of Janssen https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RZIX_4YWUcLiPiP1hSoKsunjIUMQT3hU?usp=sharing
- Christian Sebastian
- Shara Marie-France
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