Michigan State University international student Kaishi Chhabra was shocked to find out her roommate set up a GoFundMe account to help her avoid deportation
"If she is unable to finance this semester, she will be disenrolled and forced to leave the United States immediately," stated Chhabra's roommate, Emily Bevard.
Chhabra came to MSU from a third-world country to study journalism. Her father became unable to support her tuition fees due to a financial crisis back home. She declined to say where she is from because it would pose a threat on her family.
"Because of COVID, my dad was unable to pay for my tuition fees this semester. I'm set to graduate in the summer, this is my last semester and we were not ready to give up," Chhabra said. "I was not initially aware that my roommate had created a GoFundMe for me."
Bevard created the GoFundMe account and sent Chhabra the link after sharing it on Facebook Wednesday night.
"It was a last ditch effort that I kind of put together," Bevard said. "I was kind of just hoping that people would see it and do things, but I don't think either of us really thought that it would do much."
Chhabra and Bevard both currently work for the student newspaper at Michigan State, The State News. Their coworkers from the newspaper shared the post and it reach a larger audience.
"Then it kind of got to the alumni," Bevard said. "A lot of people were sharing it from there, and it kicked off a lot and it was way more helpful than I even thought it could have been."
Kaishi said she was not taking out a loan or receiving funding from anywhere, but on Friday, everything took a turn.
Many private donors from MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the financial aid department began offering Chhabra larger endowed scholarships and grants, allowing her to lower the GoFundMe goal from $20,000 to $4,000, she said.
Chhabra surpassed her GoFundMe goal, raising a sum of $4,700.
"I didn't expect that to happen. What really helped was that a lot of people were endorsing me and supporting journalism students.... and a lot of people started like donating in huge amounts," Chhabra said. "I'm not the only international student who's feeling this way or going through these problems. I just had an amazing roommate who was willing to help me out."
After graduation, Chhabra said she would like to find a good internship or a job that will allow her to convert her student visa into a work visa.
"If the opportunity arises and I'm offered a good position somewhere, I would love to stay here and you know just do my part and give back to the community that helped me. So I would definitely like want to like, you know, able to share stories about people like me, and make sure it's heard by the right people."