CHANDLER, AZ — A Valley high school senior 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 surrounds a certain number in their minds. The suffocating feeling of having to owe money while it generates interest can be a constant overwhelming state.
“I think I’m eight years of pay back the loan and you really don’t see a dent,” said Sara Ocampo.
Sara is a speech pathologist thrilled to be fulfilling her career of helping young minds become great communicators, but the master’s degree needed to get her job has her using her skills at a second job for a private company.
A key challenge for Sara is trying not to pass the burden of debt onto those closest to her.
“I think the first thing is just the guilt,” said Sara.
The dreams of debt aren’t lost on Sara’s daughter, Jadyn.
At 17 years old, Jadyn sought to alleviate some of the burdens of debt through her Basha High School senior service project by creating a scholarship for Valley educators.
“Student debt is a problem that affects so many teachers,” said Jadyn.
Through a crowdfunding account, Jadyn said she was never worried about raising money. She said she’d post it and share it as many times as needed to reach her initial $1,000 goal.
Her main concern was if any teachers would apply.
Turns out, that wasn’t much of an issue either as Jadyn said after two weeks, her scholarship had 34 applicants. The ambitious teen said she really wanted to raise $34,000 to give to each teacher.
The application process asked Valley teachers to share why they needed financial help. Jadyn said most every educator said they had a second job, one winner worked at a fast-food restaurant. Another teacher couldn’t work due to an injury sustained while training for the Olympics. And others shared a positive outlook for students despite the challenges of debt.
With a pair of balloons and one of those oversized checks, Jadyn went to seven teachers to hand-deliver $4,200 in scholarship money.
She was able to give three, $1,000 checks and four $300 checks to teachers.
In one recorded video, a teacher reacted upon learning by saying “I don’t even know what to do right now, like, is this real?”
The scholarship was supposed to be just a one-time project, but money kept rolling in after a national network shared the story.
Jadyn expects they’ll do another round of scholarships next month.
“I’m so incredibly proud of her for seeing a need and figuring out a way to meet that need,” said Sara.
Later this week, Chandler Unified School District administrators will be honoring 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 her grandparents who were also educators.
Jadyn still has a GoFundMe online to help with more scholarships.