Read my story of how I'm going to help tackle homelessness in the USA. 

My name is Rashay Reading. I was the first member of my family to go to college, and now I’m doing it again in a completely new country. I have big ambitions and I know my Essex degree will help me accomplish what I want to do in life – tackle homelessness in the USA.

I am a 28-year-old first-generation Black Native American student and I moved to Colchester in October to study for a Masters in Sociology here at Essex. Had it not been for the scholarship I received the University, I wouldn't be here.

A headshot of Rashay, wearing a sweater and glasses.

After college and before starting my Masters, I worked as a social worker in Seattle where I supported some of the most deprived individuals in the city. I saw first-hand how the current policies and support mechanisms aren't fit for purpose. They're driving those in need further away. Many of those I supported ended up resorting to drugs, living on the streets with no income and often turning to crime. I’m sure you have heard this story before because it's such a widespread issue across the States. I found it really tough but it's inspired me to be part of the solution.

My Masters in Sociology is giving me a deeper understanding of criminology and social theory, looking at how to bridge the gap between those who make the policies and the people who are affected by them. I'm going to take what I learn and apply it back in Washington where I plan to fight for social justice, help to develop new policies and educate the public on how change can be made.

Not everyone who comes to Essex has the same ambitions that I have. But everyone here wants to make a difference in their own way. There was a reception for new scholars when school started, and I met other students who want to defend the human rights of refugees, develop treatments for prostate cancer and use AI to improve farming techniques. Essex is a special place that attracts special people, as I'm sure you'll know if you've studied or worked here. 

Essex Futures funds scholarships like the one I received. It's so much more than just a tuition waiver. It has a mission. To change lives and open doors to people who are breaking generational barriers, becoming an inspiration for their community and making a difference. Being here and studying at a leading university without the burden of more debt has changed my life, and with the skills and knowledge I'm gaining at Essex, I'm going to change the lives of so many others back home.

If you want to be part of that, please donate to the Essex Futures appeal, your gift will help the team at Essex to continue supporting students who want to do good things for society. 

Thank you for reading my story. I hope it inspires you to give a gift to support a student like me in the future, or simply to get to know one of Essex's current students. If you've given to Essex in the past, thank you. I wouldn't be here without you. 


Making a gift

If you're based in the USA, gifts can be made through a charity called the British Schools and Universities Foundation (BSUF) who ensure your donation is part of a 503(c)3, making it completely tax efficient. Just select 'University of Essex'. 

All other donations can be made online here