Elmira/Corning Regional Airport

Student Goes To Cornell Through Crowd Funding

Cornell Crowd Funding

ITHACA (WENY)--- Alvaro Salas, a 27-year-old from Costa Rica, wants to dedicate his life to making a difference in his country.

His main goal is to improve access to a quality education for Costa Rican students and he plans to do that with a Master's in Public Affairs from Cornell.

"There's a lot of people that are brilliant. A lot of young guys that have all of what is needed to succeed to make a change in there communities and their neighborhoods but they don't have the opportunity to study, so for me, Cornell was a total dream.", said Salas.

For many in Costa Rica, the prospect of attending a school like Cornell may seem impossible , where the average monthly income for a middle class family can be as low as $600 a month.

However, through the internet and a powerful story, Salas was able to raise $100,000 dollars for tuition, and he was also able to bring his wife Karla and daughter Valentina from Costa Rica.

Salas raised the money through a crowd funding website, Rally.org.

Of Salas' success, Rally.org Communications Director, Nick Warshaw said, "Alvaro is really a great example of an individual who shared his story and raised money off of sharing his story. He really reached out to his friends, his family, his neighbors and reached out through online and offline events. And, brought people around and explained why he needed to go to Cornell to make an impact in Costa Rica."

Along with studying about good government practices and policy, transparency is also on the top of Salas' list, as he plans to send reports to his donors every six months so they can stay in contact.

His classmates have also been motivated by his story.

Fellow public affairs grad student, Mather Williger said, "He's persevered through it all. There were issues with his funding. There was a chance he might not have been able to come, but he got up, strapped his boots on and he made it happen. A lot of people wouldn't have done that . They would've said, "this is too much, it can't be done." But that's not the spirit that's within him, and everyday I just remember that and I try to emulate that and that's why I love him."

Salas also recieved a fellowship from the university and is set to graduate in 2014.