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Tragedy in the form of 40K

Emerson King | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Megan McArdle

Angela Johnson was your typical fourth-year student. She played on intramural sports teams, was a straight B student, and was studying general arts. Yet somehow after four years, Johnson found herself almost $40,000 in debt. This tragedy has rocked our nation and has made headlines all over national news. In a brave and bold move, Johnson has granted the Fulcrum an interview to speak about her ordeal.

The Fulcrum: After four years of university, you ended up $40,000 in debt. How exactly did this happen?

Angela Johnson: To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. One day I was going to school, having a great time, and the next I’m in debt. It’s like I woke up one day six months after graduation owing thousands of dollars. I’m so confused.

What did the administration have to say about all this?

They said it’s an unusual case. Literally everyone graduates nowadays without any debt. I’ve spoken to a couple of friends and a few of them even say that they made money during university. I know that the University of Ottawa is looking into my case and I’m very grateful for that, but it’s just so shocking and appalling, you know.

Would you say this is the worst thing that has happened to you?

Yes, without a doubt. I mean, I wanted to move away and get a job, maybe even start a family. Now, none of this is possible. Owing almost $40,000 can really cripple a person. I’m living at home now and taking it day by day. But knowing that my future is looking bleak is depressing.

Tell me more about that.

It’s the job market. I thought taking a general arts degree would’ve been the best course of action in securing a job after school. There were just so many jobs out there for people with basic arts degrees that I thought, “for sure you’ll get a job.” But sadly, that wasn’t the case. I think it has something to do with budgets and government spending, but really, who knows?

What do you plan on doing now?

Well, I work as a barista to help pay the bills, but it’s a dead-end job. I didn’t go to school for the last four years to learn how to pour a cup of coffee. In terms of the debt, I know they’re looking into it, so who knows—it might have been one big mixup.

Can you tell us about your online campaign?

Yes. I started a campaign to warn other students. I never thought it’d get this big actually. I really want them to think long and hard about post-secondary education before they go in. You just might end up with $40,000 of debt, so you have to think long and hard before you decide to go. Hopefully, what happened to me won’t happen to you, but if it does, you have to be prepared.

If you would like to make a donation to help Johnson get out of debt, please send  her a cheque. Her information can be found on