Laker raises money for study abroad trip

Drew Howard

In an effort to fund his study abroad trip to South Africa, Grand Valley State University student Marco Diaz has managed to raise over $4,200 in just 19 days on his personal GoFundMe profile.

Diaz is currently a junior studying management information systems with intentions to double major in computer science. As a part of his international field biology course, Diaz hopes to join his classmates as they travel to South Africa to conduct field research on the local communities.

“We will be primarily spending our time at the South African Wildlife College located near Kruger National Park,” Diaz said. “Recently, we received news we will have an opportunity to participate in a two-day homestay at a traditional South African home where we will be conducting interviews with locals and doing fieldwork research with the college.”

Diaz’s class will depart to South Africa on Tuesday, April 21 and stay for more than three weeks. In addition to conducting fieldwork research, students plan to give a presentation on their findings at the end of the trip.

Diaz said he chose to use GoFundMe, an online crowdfunding platform, as it is known for raising money in the education category.

With $4,280 donated to his fund to date, Diaz is now only $1,100 from being able to participate in the trip.

“At this time, I have raised over 80 percent of my $5,300 goal,” Diaz said. “I want to encourage those reading this to look for the next student in need of help and fund their education. Funding college tuition is a challenge for many families, and this campaign has taught me that society does care about education and is willing to help.”

While raising money online, Diaz has managed to continue his freelance work in addition to managing over 40 credits worth of classes during the past two semesters.

“I am extremely lucky to have an opportunity to maintain a large course load like this,” Diaz said. “I love GVSU and I plan on attending school for as long as I can. I enjoy being a part of the classroom and I feel like it’s where I am supposed to be.”

Joseph Jacquot, associate professor of biology, said he is excited to see how Diaz’s business background will factor into his research in South Africa.

“One of the things I like is that this trip is really set up primarily for biology and natural resources management majors, but Marco is in business,” Jacquot said. “So what’s kind of cool is his perspective is really going to help the biology and NRM students see what’s going on from a different perspective.”

Diaz added that he is surprised to see how many people have donated thus far to his cause.

“I wasn’t planning on receiving this amount of financial support from my campaign,” he said. “The first day, I remember, I received a $500 donation with a message saying good luck and it got me thinking this might actually work. It’s a great feeling to know that society wants students to become educated and is willing to help.”

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