The Chelko Foundation was thrilled to be able to award Ashli Ognelodh an art Scholarship. Ashli, a senior at GA State in the Arts Department￼, showed tremendous spirit and dedication in her studies, but was still having a hard time with the logistics required to complete her final semester. Struggling and not knowing what to do next, Ashli and The Chelko Foundation crossed paths and we are happy to announce that The Chelko Foundation was able to assist Ashli with her final semester of school as she continues on to a great and rewarding career in the arts!
My name is Ashli Ognelodh I have had a passion for art since the age of 6. I lost touch with art at 10 but we reconnected at 18. I always knew that I wanted to do art. I never knew what I would do with my talent, but I did know that I could not imagine a life without and i refused to further my adulthood without doing what I loved. I began my collegiate career in 2006. I started at Macon State College. It started very easy go to school, the only repsonsibility. Then I totaled my car late 06. Everything changed completely.
I started working in 07 to pay for my bills. It started off casual go to work go to school, but eventually my school relationship started to take a backseat. i was still in attendance physically, but mentally at work. I began working more hours and eventually at 19 I got promoted to a manager. I began obsessed with working. I still never dropped out but my gpa dropped because I was working over forty hours a week and going to school (can we say ridiculous) as an art major. I lost my scholarships and had to work more to pay for school. So I found another job to help because I didn’t want to take out loans. So I worked more and still attended school. By spring 2008 everything was going decently smooth I was working and going to school. My gpa wasnt the best, was I going to be magna cum laude> no, but I was going to graduate.
In the summer of 2008 tragedy struck, my sister’s lupus took a turn for the worst. So I left school and quit my job to be with her in New York I catered to her every need I left my life completely. I loved her so much. At that point nothing mattered except my art. Art was my escape. Escape that she might not ever get better; my hope that she would get better; art had become my boyfriend, the love of my life. We would sit in her hospital room and I would listen to her tell me all the places my art would take me. Did I believe it, not really but she did :). Eventually she started to get better so I applied to GA State University and got accepted for attendance for the 2009 school year. Things were looking up.
I eventually took out a loan because I wasnt working. I went to school tuesday and thursday full time and went to New York thursday night to monday morning on discount student tickets to be with my sister. Things were great I was doing well in school my sister was on the transplant list for a new heart. (lupus destroyed her heart and she was living on a thoratec bi-vad machine that pumped her titanium heart elctronically). By august I had even gotten a job at bank of america and moved into my own place. I was happy. The semester started once again in August I was on track I was even making straight A’s. Then in October 2009 my sister lost her battle with lupus and I lost my will. I left school completely. I drew one picture and it was my version of a portrait of her. After that I had no desire to do anything art related. my cheerleader was gone. My sister was foundational for me. Whenever I felt not good enough she would say you’re right you’re not good enough, you are great enough. She believed in my art more than I did. I did not return to school until the summer of 2010. I decided since I was paying for school I might as well continue.
It wasnt until spring 2011 that I realized that I was almost finished. I pushed through everything. i knew that I had to finish, not just for me but for her. There were things we talked about and I knew that I had to push through to complete them for her. Again things were good I started establishing myself as an artist participating in shows and even establishing a small business for myself (ashlioart). Was I rich no but were there possiblities yes. I even used money from my art sales that I saved to pay my tuition in the fall of 2011. Things were looking good I was going to graduate. Then by the end of 2011 fall semester I became so overwhelmed with trying to pass that I wasnt able to really promote my business and my school supplies were expensive. I was spending over 1000.00 dollars for art supplies. I realized that I was not going to be able to pay my tuition. I had a loan but I needed more to cover the cost tuition is constantly increasing. I panicked. I tried to apply for another loan but to my disbelief I was declined which was a shock because I have been establishing credit since 18 and I have pretty good credit at 23.
I met Ms. Layne while working at the bank. She came in to do a transaction and I assisted her. Being the talker that I am I asked her about a foundation name that I saw on her transaction. She was very pleasant and she told me about the work that she does. We exchanged contact info. This was in August. fast forward to now I emailed her and asked her was there anything she could dp. She told me to apply. I told her I wasnt old enough she said thats ok. I began to apply and I saw that they didnt award financial assistance until march. I was destrought. i sent her an email and I thanked her for her help and asked her did she know of any other opportunities. She had done what she could I knew and I was grateful. At this point I was devastated because here it is the week my tuition is due I am a senior, i graduate in May 2012. I had made the grades to get my GPA a little up, after all I had been through I could not graduate because I could not afford to. It hurt. I felt like all my efforts had been for nothing.
I received an email from Ms. Layne and she told me to submit my application and she would see what she could do. This was tuesday. I decided that I had done all that I could do and the rest was going to be left to God to handle. On thursday I recieved an email from Ms. Layne to come meet her at her beautiful home. We chatted and next thing I knew I was being presented with a check from the foundation for my full tuition balance amount. I cried and I cried and I cried. Words cannot express what that moment was for me and for my family.
The Chelko Foundation has allowed me to not only continue my education but complete a dream that I shared with my late sister.
I thank you I thank you I thank you.