Dear Penn: You made me what I am today, so who owes whom?

A Penn graduate's modest proposal

4 minute read
I don't look like a social worker? Says who?
I don't look like a social worker? Says who?
Dear University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice:

Since I graduated with a master's in social work barely three years ago, I have received a handful of letters from you seeking donations. At first, when I read these letters, I would enjoy a great laugh, utter a few expletives and then throw the absurd thing in the garbage where it belonged.

You see, due to my romanticized ideas about the value of an Ivy League education, I naively borrowed an obscene amount of money to attend your prestigious university. When I obtained my degree at age 24, I applied for job after job without success. I was either overqualified because of my master's degree or underqualified because I lacked "real" experience. And now I find myself in an oppressive cycle of debt that I have no hope of ever repaying.

But recently I had a revelation: Since a successful operation like yours has thrived for so long, maybe I should use a similar method for paying my own bills. In case you haven't caught on, I'm asking you for a donation.

My qualifications

I need about $120,000. But anything helps, really. What with my rent, bills, credit cards, interest on loans, etc., my $30,000-a-year job just isn't cutting it. I pretty much pay one bill so it's not overdue, then live off a high-interest credit card until I get "real money" again. I basically have nothing. So if you wanted to throw me even just a few bucks for a coffee or a beer, that would be pretty sweet.

Since you're accustomed to applications and grant proposals, I suppose you expect me to explain why you should give me money. Don't worry— I'm prepared.

First of all, my qualifications are excellent. I hold a master's in social work from an Ivy League university. Second, I work full-time— sometimes overtime if they let me— not for some paper-shuffling corporate red tape bureaucracy but for a nonprofit cause I believe in. It pays hardly anything and I barely make ends meet. But I'm so motivated that I've done all sorts of side work too: stripping, foot fetish parties and other types of totally legal sex work.

Lap dance therapy

Not to worry— I'm an empowered sex-positive feminist, so I was totally fine with taking my clothes off for money. It provided me at least one joke for my latest career as a stand-up comic: "Lap dances are like naked psychodynamic therapy."

Yes, that's right: I do stand-up comedy now. Turns out I'm pretty good at it. With comedy, I feel I've reached a happy medium where I can incorporate activism and therapy into a set that can reach out to an entire room full of people in five or ten minutes. You might say I'm doing social work in public. Check me out on YouTube— I'm the only Rachel Fogletto. (Click here, for example.) You'll probably get the most out of the bits titled, "More Stuff About Dicks and Master's Degrees" and "When Life Hands You Rape Jokes."

Making a dent

Unfortunately, my potential employers at social service agencies may not appreciate these riffs if they check me out on the Internet. So if my fresh outlook on society fails to take off, I'll need money. Bad.

So here's my proposition: Just give me some money. Better still, hire me for some type of administrative job I could totally learn, because I'm intelligent and creative as hell. Just look at my résumé! I would need at least $50,000 to start making a dent in my payments. But I'm open to anything.

I hope you consider my letter, or at least got a kick out of it before tossing it in the garbage. If you do that, I won't be offended. But just remember: I may be famous some day, and I'll remember those who helped me up when I was down. Wouldn't you like to jump on my bandwagon now, while you still have the chance?♦

To read a response, click here.

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