Jessica Guilbeaux, the breakout star of the newest “Queer Eye” season, shared that fans raised enough money through GoFundMe to pay off her student loan debt and send her back to college to finish the degree she started but never finished.
“I’m going back to school to study computer science,” she told NBC News. “Tech has always been something I’ve been interested in, so I am definitely going back for that. I’m a huge nerd, so that’s always going to be apart of me.”
Guilbeaux was kicked out of her home at 16 by her adoptive family when they discovered she was a lesbian. Later, she tried going to the University of Kansas to study computer science, but she had to drop out after accruing too much student loan debt.
Her story became the center of “Black Girl Magic,” an episode on the most recent season of the Emmy-winning Netflix reality makeover show. In the days following, fans started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the 23-year-old waitress. In less than a month, they raised $100,000, reaching the fundraising goal.
“I was just super grateful for people wanting to help me with a dream that I had basically buried,” she said. “It’s such a kind gesture, and it was totally unexpected.”
Guilbeaux plans to give a portion of the money to an LGBTQ nonprofit: “I also want to donate to GLAAD, because I have the ability to give back to my community now. So what I don’t need will be given for that purpose.”
When asked what she hopes people take away from her story, Guilbeaux noted that “everyone goes through something” challenging in their life, and she hopes her story helps them feel empowered to get through those times.
“Don’t let your struggle define you, because you are more than that,” she said. “You can do anything you set your mind to if you just believe in yourself.”