By Tyler Rothbauer
Caitlin Hedge, a current Youngstown State University graduate student, was able to perform in Austria because of generous people and a website called GoFundMe.com.
Hedge started the campaign in May and had it closed by the end of June. She had reached her goal of $1,500 in less than two months.
Hedge began the GoFundMe campaign after she was accepted into the American Institute of Musical Studies. She auditioned for this very selective program a few months earlier.
“I was absolutely thrilled to be chosen as a participant in the festival’s orchestra,” Hedge said. “I decided to use GoFundMe as a funding assistant, initially, because the system is a unique network of family, friends, colleagues, coworkers and even anonymous donors.”
Donating is free and safe, but the campaigner doesn’t receive the full donated amount.
According to Patrick Bateman, associate professor of the management department at YSU, a small percentage that is donated is collected by the site for fees.
Hedge was successful in her campaign and was able to perform with the AIMS orchestra this past summer.
“The orchestra was comprised of undergraduate, graduate, doctorate level students,” Hedge said. “As well as seasoned professionals from all over the USA, Canada, South America, Germany, France, Sweden, Austria and Kazakhstan.”
Hedge also noted that she worked with four different conductors, all who were internationally acclaimed for orchestral work in Europe.
As a full-time graduate student, she had found that she had a hard time affording the costs of traveling and administrative fees without outside assistance.
In the beginning, Hedge went to YSU’s graduate student program to scout for scholarships but was not eligible for any. She then chose to pursue help using GoFundMe.
“GoFundMe helped me afford my round trip airfare, a month long tram pass and weekly train/bus tickets, food costs, administrative fees and other living expenses,” Hedge said.
Bateman noted that these types of situations are available now because of the online publicity.
“Raising awareness increases the potential pool of donors,” Bateman said. “This increases the chances the campaign will be successful and/or the amount that will be able to be raised.”
Hedge graduated from Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music in the spring of 2015.
She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in violin performance at YSU’s Dana School of Music.
Hedge anticipates graduating in the spring.
She added that when she wasn’t performing, her time was spent in downtown Graz, hiking the alps and traveling throughout Europe via tram.
“All of these things made for an incredible summer, thanks to the help from my GoFundMe campaign,” Hedge said.
Andrew Zajac, 2015 graduate and now second year YSU graduate student, has recently completed a conference trip to Cambridge, UK, with the help of GoFundMe as well.
“The conference itself ended yesterday, and I was able to be amongst some of the world’s leading Civil War and abolition historians,” Zajac said. “The conference was an amazing opportunity that I’m taking back so much from.”