An Email from a Participant

Dear Angela,
I read your project concerning student loan relief.  I owe close to
$83,000 in student loan debt from attending Art Center College of
Design in Pasadena, CA.  I graduated in 2010. It’s been hard
finding work. I had a job painting for another artist since October
2010, but I recently got laid off in February. He paid me $10 dollars
an hour to paint paintings he sold for $20,000 to $50,000 each. He
also had pieces painted in China, which he paid hardly anything. I was
racing when I painted, worried I would loose my job to China. Whenever
it would get slow he would lay us off. I was laid off 8 times last
year. My father died a year ago of cancer. It was very traumatic for
me. He was my closest family member. I watched him wither away in
extreme pain & madness. He was helping me a bit financially make the
transition from student life into this difficult economy. I learned
graphic design as well as animation at my school. He was supposed to
help me get a computer to be able to get freelance jobs but he got
sick & I did not push him to do so. He only left a left a little bit
of life insurance which went to my mother to help her survive after
his death. I could not afford to take any time off to mourn him. I
owed back rent from helping him when he was sick. I was afraid I was
going to be evicted. My loans came up shortly after he died. They call
me morning, noon, & night. I had hardly any money to even eat or to
pay rent. My electricity was turned off. I lived in darkness for
almost a year. I became very good at painting by candle light.  Even
though this was a difficult experience, I did learn some interesting
things.  My brain & body, at this point feel very scrambled with
stress.  When I graduated in August it took me 3 months to find a job.
I barely had time to make any transition from school to the working
world when my family tragedy hit. My school is also famous for working
the students into sleep deprivation. For three years I worked extreme
hours with harsh criticism. I have not yet had any psychological break
to even comprehend what I experienced in my schooling. The depression
has been so utterly deep & painful. I’m at a loss how I’m ever going
to pay my loans back. It seems insurmountable.