On Thursday morning, 18-year-old Vitoria Mario was nearly halfway to her fundraising goal to cover her university tuition.
That was until Taylor Swift came across the London student’s fundraising page and donated the remaining amount she needed — about $30,696.
“Vitoria, I came across your story online and am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality,” the singer, 30, wrote on Mario’s GoFundMe, which had an initial goal of 40,000 pounds (around $52,547).
“I want to gift you the rest of your goal amount. Good luck with everything you do! Love, Taylor,” she added.
Mario, who describes herself as “a young Black 18 year old with a dream,” shared that she received an offer to study mathematics at England’s University of Warwick. She found herself “in a position of uncertainty,” however, after learning that she was not eligible for loans or grants.
“I have lived in the U.K. for 4 years now, after migrating from Portugal to live with family in Tottenham,” she wrote in the GoFundMe description. “The socio-economic barriers of not being eligible for maintenance loans/grants is due not only to not having ‘Home’ status, but also because my family are low income, and unable to help me self-fund through university.”
“Sadly, my father has passed away, and my mother remains in Portugal,” the description continued. “Moving away from her was a challenge but it was a sacrifice worth being made, in my family’s eyes. ‘If you can get a university education in the UK, you will be set apart for life.’”
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Speaking to local news outlet MyLondon on Wednesday, prior to Swift’s donation, Mario said the support she had received so far was “unexpected.” She said that she planned to pay the generosity forward, hoping to one day form a charity.
"My goal is to create a charity that helps people like me,” Mario said. “I've achieved more than some people who are English but I haven't been able to access the same privileges.”
Mario also acknowledged the gender gap when it comes to STEM fields. "I also want to encourage females to do science subjects,” she added. “In my school I’m the only girl doing Maths at university."
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