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After fundraiser goes viral, Georgetown awards gay valedictorian full scholarship

A fundraiser to help pay for Seth Owen's college tuition reached nearly $130,000 as of Friday afternoon.
by Alexander Kacala /
Seth Owen
Seth OwenCourtesy Seth Owen

Seth Owen, 18, thought his dreams of attending Georgetown University were in jeopardy earlier this year after receiving his financial aid package from the prestigious school. The package had been determined based on the expected contribution of his family, a religious family he said drove him out of his home due to his sexual orientation.

“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” he said, noting he would have to fork up $20,000 for the first year’s tuition alone.

That’s when his former teacher and mentor, Jane Martin, decided to set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his tuition, hoping to “make the impossible possible." Martin's original goal was to raise $20,000, but Owen’s heart-wrenching story went viral. News outlets across the country reported on Owen’s story, and his fundraising total skyrocketed to nearly $130,000.

Then on Friday, NBC News learned that Georgetown had decided to offer Owen a full scholarship.

“While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality,” Owen said in a statement sent to NBC News. “Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.”

Owen said he plans to use the money his GoFundMe page has raised to cover his additional personal expenses while at Georgetown and to create a scholarship fund for other students.

“At the moment, I am in process of exploring the establishment of a scholarship to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year,” he stated. “I am looking forward to utilizing the resources of Georgetown to help with this effort.”

Read Seth Owen’s complete statement below:

Thank you.

Thank you to all of my supporters in Jacksonville and across the globe who have given their time, talents, and financial support to help me make my dream of attending Georgetown University a reality.

Thank you to the staff and professionals at the Georgetown University Office of Student Financial Services. Over the past several months, the Office of Student Financial Services has worked to address the situation that I faced after I was forced to leave my home, in February. In mid-June of this year, the Office of Student Financial Affairs adjusted my aid package to take into account my circumstances; however, there was still a gap that would need to be filled by private loans.

These loans were not a viable option for me, as my parents would not act as the necessary guarantors of the loans. At this point, I thought my dream of attending Georgetown University was over.

Hearing of this situation, my former teacher, Jane Martin, started a Go-Fund-Me campaign. To date, the goals of the campaign have been met many times over.

While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality. Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.

The Office of Student Financial Services was instrumental in helping me enroll in the Georgetown Scholarship Program, whose purpose is to make attendance at Georgetown possible for students in a financial situation similar to my own. This program also includes mentoring and networking opportunities which will help me to assist others in situations similar to the one I found myself in earlier this year.

Georgetown is my dream school because of the limitless opportunities it provides to its students. In particular, my interest in the school was piqued by the prestigious program of study in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. I am honored to be selected to attend Georgetown University and am elated that I am now able to attend Georgetown because of the gracious donations to the GoFundMe campaign and the efforts of the Office of Student Financial Services.

Thank you to all who have donated to the campaign. Your generosity will help me succeed academically this year and in the years to come. At the moment, I am in process of exploring the establishment of a scholarship to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year. I am looking forward to utilizing the resources of Georgetown to help with this effort.

Again, a simple "Thank You" seems to be not enough for all of the support I’ve received from so many. I will be seeking to pass on the kindness and generosity that I have been shown.

Best regards, Seth Owen

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