SACRAMENTO -- The walk in her cap and gown to get her diplomas was years in the making for Wendy Walraven. It was a day she never thought she’d see, until she found the inspiration from her family.
“My grandma told me that I could do more,” Walraven told FOX40. “You know, with her love and support I graduated with two degrees.”
But her 2015 ceremony was no ordinary commencement. These students graduated from Heald College, just one month before the school closed its doors permanently. This wasn’t even a college-run event. The students organized it themselves last minute.
If this was the high point of Walraven’s Heald College experience, the low was soon to follow. Reality sunk in quickly.
“This leaves me $50,000 in debt and growing,” Walraven said. “It leaves me without a job. It leaves me without the resources to help me find work.”
The school’s parent company, Corinthian College Inc., filed for bankruptcy after California’s justice department filed a suit against them. Students were left with mounds of debt. Many never finished their degree programs. For those who did, like Walraven, it may have all been for nothing.
“My Heald degrees don’t mean nothing to employers,” Walraven said.
For the past 18 months, Walraven applied for more than 20 jobs with her two medical degrees. She never got so much as a call back. She says she’s been living on a few hundred bucks a month, plus assistance. It’s not the life she imagined post-graduation.
Others, like Christina Droughten, never finished their degree programs.
“What do I do?” Droughten asks. “Do I transfer my units to another school? Do I try to get a job? What do I do?”
Droughten had a choice when Heald closed; try to get her $40,000 in student loans back, or transfer to another school, finish her degree and risk losing some of that money.
“I thought about it for six months. I tried to get a job in the accounting field. And I couldn’t. I was unsuccessful, so I chose to apply for loan forgiveness,” Droughten said.
It’s a dilemma facing many students. Droughten got her tuition money back, but it took about six months. She found a job too, though not in accounting, which she studied at Heald.
For others, like Walraven, it’s been much tougher. A journey that began with such promise has now been halted by broken promises.
But the same source of hope that started Walraven on her path—the love of her grandmother-- is what continues to drive her.
“She was so proud, she was so proud,” Walraven said. “And that’s what made it worth it for me.”
If you were a student of a Corinthian College school when it closed, or you believe you were defrauded by a Corinthian College school, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Head here to learn more.