It’s a dream come true for the Dominican-raised activist, but Rianna’s dream of a master’s degree in dementia hangs in the balance without the £24,100 she needs for living expenses while living in England’s capital city.
Rianna has recently been awarded a bursary from the Illesha Charitable Trust, a private family trust based in England that makes on-going and impact donations to Science, Technology & Diversity initiatives & causes. This goes alongside her crowdfunding campaign.
She said: “My grandmother passed away during the second year of my undergraduate degree and I was homeless shortly after. Since then I’ve been renting, but due to the cost of living, I haven’t been able to save money.
“I’ve already deferred the original 2022 offer to September 2023 because I wasn’t able to secure sufficient funding to pay for the tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses.
“Crowdfunding is the only remaining option to raise finances for my living costs, estimated to be around £12,000, in addition to the tuition fee, which is £14,100.”
Rianna founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation in memory of her grandfather, Terry Vidal, who died of dementia in Dominica when she was 16. She then went on to complete associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in psychology at the University of Kent − juggling academia with the day-to-day running of an international charity; representing the foundation in forums and building relationships with care providers that support Caribbean communities in the UK.
Terry was like a father figure to Rianna. “When he passed away, I felt lost. The whole family did,” she said.
The time she spent with her grandfather in hospital highlighted the lack of understanding of dementia in public health settings, poor access to support for young carers, and the cultural stigma towards dementia in the Caribbean. Through her charity and consultancy work, Rianna has sought to correct all of those while campaigning for improved research and resources on dementia and holistic treatments.
“Dementia is one of the biggest medical challenges of our time, so I want donors to see their sponsorship as a social investment for the community because I want to upskill the public through one-to-one mentorship to support their journey into academia as well run
workshops to increase their knowledge on dementia. This master’s degree will give me a solid foundation to continue the work of the Dominica Dementia Foundation, as well as secure a position as a senior researcher in dementia.
“I’ve raised over £5,300 so far and I’m very grateful for everyone who’s contributed because I know it’s difficult to do at the moment. To raise the money myself, I’ve contacted several potential donors directly, like other charities and trusts, as well as launching different services I can earn money from, such as public speaking.
“Raising the money will mean I can complete my master’s degree without the worry of having my studies interrupted because of financial constraints. It will give me peace of mind.”
Rianna can be contacted at Info.firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contribute to her crowdfunder at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-rianna-study-dementia-at-ucl
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Dominicans are a very rare breed, champagne taste and beer money. Exception: the CM and his corrupt cabal.
But every student who does not have parents who are not too well off have the same issues.
You don’t want to carry student debt like everybody else so you are asking people to invest in you. I would suggest you invest in yourself like everyone else.
To be quite honest, I have found begging to be too easy and commonplace for this generation.
If you choose the right program which can support you after you graduate and if you manage your money properly thereafter you should not have a problem paying off your debt later.
I think the young lady’s desire to become qualified in a non-traditional but very much needed area is exemplary. She has chosen a degree that will not only benefit her but will also benefit many other people.
How is that different from any other degree?
My point is, if you believe in yourself, you need to bet on yourself and not couch begging as “help me to help you”.
It looks like asking strangers for their money has become too easy and shameless nowadays.
When I did my degree, I looked to family for financial assistance which I paid off immediately after I started earning an income. I worked my ass off doing midnight shifts that no one else wanted. That is how you do it, not issuing a press release asking strangers for their money.