Vitoria Mario created a GoFundMe to raise money to pay for her college tuition, and she got a large gift from one very special donor — Taylor Swift. The singer donated £23,373 (more than $30,000) to the London student, which put her over her goal amount of £40,000 (about $52,000).
On her GoFundMe page, the 18-year-old explained that she had received a conditional offer to study Mathematics at the prestigious University of Warwick, but was not in the financial position to pay for her place there.
“I have lived in the U.K. for 4 years now, after migrating from Portugal to live with my family in Tottenham,” she wrote. “The socioeconomic barriers of not being eligible for maintenance loans/grants is due not only to not having ‘Home’ status, but also because my family is low income, and unable to help me self-fund through university.”
Mario’s father has passed away, and her mother is now living in Portugal. Her family encouraged her to remain in the U.K. to get a quality university education there.
“In spite of this, I have always been a studious person, and after coming to the U.K. in 2016, unable to utter a word in English, I achieved 100% A*-As in all my GCSEs in 2018, getting a grade 9 and 8 in Maths and English respectively,” she wrote.
In attending college, Mario says she hopes to gain upward mobility and inspire others to reach for their dreams despite barriers such as race, immigration status and financial level. The money will go to cover her accommodations, equipment (such as a laptop) and living expenses.
“Only 35% of STEM students are female, and as of 2018, they make up just 26% of STEM graduates,” she went on to note. “In addition to the gender imbalance, there is further under-representation of BAME women, particularly Black women, who are in shortage within the field and academic institutions.”
Swift was impressed with Mario’s hard work and perseverance through adversity and was motivated to help her achieve her goal.
“Victoria, I came across your story online and am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality,” Swift wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I want to gift you the rest of your goal amount. Good luck with everything you do! Love, Taylor.”
Mario told BBC Radio that she was “over the moon” about the donation. In fact, she had already been a Taylor Swift fan, but now she would be a fan “for the rest of my life,” Mario said. She promised to make her celebrity backer proud by graduating with top grades.
On August 14, Mario updated her donors to let them know that her place at University of Warwick had been confirmed. She thanked everyone for donating and sharing her campaign.
Congratulations to Mario and best of luck in her studies!