My Hilarious Battle With Academia and Student Debt

A few years ago I wrote a letter to the University of Pennsylvania where I got my useless MSW. I submitted it to the Broad Street Review where it was edited in all kinds of ways, but hey it’s exposure…you can check it out here but if you want the original content of my brilliant masterpiece you can read it right here:

“To whom it may concern,

Since I have graduated from University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice with an MSW just over 3 years ago, I have received a handful of letters asking for my donation to the school/program. At first when I would read these letters to myself, I would enjoy a great laugh, exclaim a few expletives, and then throw the absurd thing in the garbage where it belongs. But recently I had a revelation that inspired me to respond with this letter you are reading today. However, you definitely won’t want to throw this away before reading it entirely. Trust me.

I thought that since a successful operation as yourself could thrive for so long, maybe I should retain one last lesson from you, and attempt to use a similar method for paying my own bills. Due to the romanticized idea I had about Ivy League education, I naively borrowed an obscene amount of money to attend your prestigious university. I am now in an oppressive cycle of debt that I have no hope of ever repaying. When I obtained my degree at the age of 24 I found myself applying for job after job with no response. I was either overqualified because of the master’s degree or under-qualified because I had no “real” experience.  Since I find myself in the ironic position of now needing to be my own social worker and advocate, I thought that I’d be pro-active, UPENN style. In case you haven’t caught on, I’m asking you for a donation.

I need about $120,000 dollars, but anything helps, really. My $30,000/year job just isn’t cutting it with rent, bills, credit cards, interest on loans, etc. I pretty much pay one thing so it’s not late, then live off a high interest credit card until I get “real money” again. I basically have nothing, so even if you wanted to throw me a few bucks for a coffee or a beer that would be pretty sweet too. I suppose that since you’re used to applications and proposals and such, you are waiting for me to explain to you why you should give me money. Don’t worry, I’m prepared.

First of all, my qualifications are excellent. I have an MSW from an Ivy League university. Second, I work full time, sometimes overtime if they let me. I’m working the same nonprofit job I’ve had since undergrad. It pays hardly anything and I barely make ends meet.  However, I would rather work for a cause I support and love than have a job where I work in administration and am vulnerable to getting sucked into red tape bureaucracy.  So don’t worry, I’m not just sitting around on my ass all day not doing anything. I’m so motivated that I’ve done all sorts of side work to make extra money in hopes that I may keep my head above water, including stripping, foot fetish parties, and other types of totally legal sex work. Don’t worry, I’m an empowered sex-positive feminist, so I was totally fine with taking my clothes off for money while working the joke, “lap dances are like naked psychodynamic therapy” into my stand-up comedy routine.

So here’s the catch. As you just read, I do stand-up comedy now. Turns out, I’m pretty good at it. Will I make it big? Who knows? But, just like taking the risk of borrowing money you don’t have  to attend a reputable school under the assumption you will easily land a job that allows you to pay it off, in order to make a solid attempt in the entertainment world, I have to go balls out. This means that I’m totally out on the internet doing my thing. I feel like with comedy 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 5-10 minutes, so I’m kind of doing social work anyway. Check me out on Youtube, I’m the only Rachel Fogletto. You’ll probably get the most out of the bits titled,  “More Stuff About Dicks and Masters Degrees” and “When Life Hands you Rape Jokes” but you can watch all of them if you like what you see!

So I guess my professional reputation is pretty wrecked if it’s true that employers search you on the internet before hiring. I’m hoping that my fresh outlook on society takes off and I can eventually make a living off of doing creative work and performance art. But if that falls through, I need money. Bad.

So I propose this. I would ideally like you to just give me some money. My life is pretty hectic but I’m happy other than the massive, penetrating, debt-phallus lodged into my you-know-what. But I understand you would probably need funding or some guy in a suit to approve it, so I came up with another option. You could hire me. You could hire me to work for the University doing some type of administrative job I could totally learn because I’m intelligent and creative as hell. Just look at my credentials! I would definitely need to make at least $50,000 to start making a dent in my payments but I’m open to anything!

Let me know what you think. I hope you consider my letter, or at least got a kick out of it enough to see how awesome and funny I am before throwing it away in the garbage as you move on to the rest of your day. If you do that, I won’t be offended. Everything I do that takes time at this point costs me money, so if I can’t put it toward promoting myself and my comedy, then it’s worth nothing. With that being said, I’m going to post this online as an open letter, if anything to get myself some attention within my growing group of fans, potential sympathizers who may actually give me money if you don’t, someone else who may hire me if you don’t, or have it go viral on the internet in hopes of becoming famous.

I hope you understand.


Rachel Fogletto, MSW

Comedian. Writer. Entertainer.

Drinker of $7 wine, Dick-Joke-Teller Extraordinaire”

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