INDIANAPOLIS — With just one semester before he graduation from the University of Indianapolis, 23-year-old Dorothee Kesiya can see the finish line.
But she can't cross it.
“My friends are finishing and I’m like, 'Am I going to finish? Am I going to be able to, like, accomplish my dreams?'" Kesiya said.
That's because Kesiya's family, back home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has fallen on hard times, in part because of COVID-19, and the money for her tuition just isn’t there.
“A lot of people lost their jobs," Kesiya said. "It really has been bad."
The international relations and German studies double major worked on campus as a tutor, trying to foot some of the bill, but that ended when the pandemic hit.
“When that shut down, it’s like, it’s over," said Kesiya.
Getting a job off campus hasn't been an option.
“We’re not allowed to work off campus as an international student. You can only work on campus. That’s the law," said Kesiya.
Last year, the university let Kesiya take classes, even though she was only able to pay a small amount of her tuition.
"They just gave me a payment plan that I can't follow because I clearly don't have the money," Kesiya said.
To even register for classes this year, Kesiya owes her balance from last year and the tuition for next semester, a little more than $40,000.
“I don’t know where it’s going to come from or how I’m going to get that," she said.
Kesiya has turned to something she can do, helping others by volunteering with Refuge Place Indy, packing meals for the city's homeless.
“If you have something small that you can share with others, at least you can do that, because you know how it feels to not have what you need," Kesiya said.
It’s a feeling Kesiya, who dreams of working for the United Nations, knows all too well.
“It’s like really heartbreaking, like I’m almost here. I can’t take no classes, making me feel some type of way, but I can’t really do anything about it," Kesiya said.