An aspiring mathematician who could not afford to pay for university in the UK says she is “over the moon” after being gifted £23,000 by an unlikely donor – Taylor Swift.
Vitoria Mario was offered a place at university but doubted she would ever get to go due to financial obstacles standing in her way.
However, the unassuming 18-year-old, who achieved two A*s and an A in her A-levels, has now been thrown a lifeline to higher education from the American pop superstar.
The Wildest Dreams singer donated £23,373 to Vitoria’s fundraising page, which she set up in desperation so she could accept her offer from the University of Warwick.
Speaking to Sky News, Vitoria said: “It’s amazing. I’m just over the moon and so thankful.
“I was utterly shocked when I found out she’d made the donation, I just couldn’t believe it.
“This is a dream I’m now able to achieve, not have this financial burden for getting to university.”
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The socio-economic barriers of not being eligible for maintenance loans and grants meant previously Vitoria’s future plans were in jeopardy.
In a bid to change her destiny, she set up a GoFundMe page with an initial goal of £40,000.
To her surprise, one of the world’s most famous singers offered a very generous helping hand.
Alongside the donation, 30-year-old Swift wrote: “Vitoria, I came across your story online and am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality.
“I want to gift you the rest of your goal amount. Good luck with everything you do! Love, Taylor.”
Generous members of the public had initially bumped the donation page to nearly half her fundraising goal to cover her university tuition, but the star’s almighty sum boosted the target beyond Vitoria’s imagination.
Her mother could not believe the news – well aware of the financial strain preventing her daughter from progressing.
“She was overjoyed. Everyone has been texting me with their messages of support. It’s been overwhelming,” Vitoria said.
Vitoria’s family had always been passionate about studying in the UK, so four years ago she left her mum behind in Portugal to move to Tottenham, London, to stay with family so she could invest in her education.
She has grafted ever since.
Vitoria initially set up the fundraiser after trying and failing to ask for sponsorship from firms that she wanted to work at.
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Her friends suggested she appealed to the public for donations, but she was astounded that it caught the attention of Swift.
Armed with a place at Warwick University, Vitoria can’t wait to study maths. She wants more girls to study science and technology subjects, as she’s aware she’s in the minority.
She said: “I feel like as a black female, this is the career I’m passionate about. I don’t believe in impossibilities, literally I don’t believe it at all.
“And I feel like girls should be more encouraged to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) because I feel like sometimes we are just driven away by fear, and we shouldn’t.”
She added: “Also, financial obstacles get in the way, but money shouldn’t be the thing stopping you from achieving your dreams.”