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Sunday Reflections: In Which I Say Thank You, by Riley Jensen

In March of this year, as we were waiting to see if family we loved would survive Covid and after surviving a horrific storm here in Texas, we received Riley’s financial aid package for her dream school with her dream forensic science program at Ohio University. That was the moment our dreams were shattered and we learned that unless she went into such extreme debt, that she would not be able to make this happen and we, as her parents, could not make this happen for her. Then in May, one week before he was supposed to fly out to attend her graduation, my Dad died from a car accident. He had survived a few years bout with cancer and a few months bout with Covid just to die suddenly in a car accident. To say that we were devastated is an understatement. TLT readers have given us so much support over the years and so many of you reached out to us with love, support, prayers and more. Your friendship, prayers and shares stories have sustained us during difficult battles and anxious moments. And then several sent messages telling me that we should do a Go Fund Me to help pay for Riley’s college, so we did. We set a goal of $5,000 as that is what she needed above and beyond what she is eligible for in college loans to make her Freshman year happen. And you all have so generously donated and we met that goal. We didn’t tell Riley about the Go Fund Me at first, in case we didn’t meet the goal. We didn’t want to give her false hope. But we have met the goal, we have shared the information with her, and she has been moved beyond measure. Today for our Sunday Reflections, she wants to say thank you in her own words.

In Which I Say Thank You, by Riley Jensen

When I received my financial aid packet from Ohio University I didn’t know how I was going to be able to come up with all of the money that wasn’t covered. I applied for so many scholarships and even asked for extra ones from the school directly. I didn’t get much more money from that, so going to college was starting to seem less and less likely. My family and I even made multiple back-up plans in case this wasn’t possible at all. We talked about me going to a less expensive college or doing community college, but I really didn’t want that. It really didn’t seem like this year could get worse.

Then, it did get worse. After my grandfather died I kind of stopped thinking about college. I didn’t realize it, but his death had more of an effect on me than what I thought. When graduation came I had barely even looked at what I needed to do for college because it was so strange that my grandfather wasn’t there to watch. Even after graduation I still hadn’t done much. I was busy with rehearsals and grieving, so college wasn’t really my focus.

Now, with theatre done and nothing else to do, I have to think about college. That was when my parents told me about all the money I had received. I don’t know if they told me about it earlier, if they did I don’t remember. But, it was a lot of money and it made college seem more attainable. I remember thinking that I was going to go into so much debt trying to pay for this, but now I may not have to worry so much.

This year has been so stressful, but knowing that there’s so many people who want to help me succeed is so comforting. I don’t know what I would do without all of the people helping, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Sincerely, Riley Jensen

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