Funded!: How I Leveraged My Passion to Live A Fulfilling Life and How You Can Too

Funded!: How I Leveraged My Passion to Live A Fulfilling Life and How You Can Too

by Lucy Gent Foma


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630477080
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 05/16/2016
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Lucy Gent Foma, a Smith College graduate, received over a quarter of a million dollars in fellowship, scholarship, and grant awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship and a Rotary Scholarship. She worked as a microfinance fellow and environmental studies teacher in Cameroon, researched traditional dance in Senegal, has traveled the world, and graduated with her master’s degree from Cornell University. . . debt-free. Now she wants to share her secrets with you.

Read an Excerpt

I just had to let them laugh at me first, and then I could do the dances I knew. — Elise Smith Gent, my mother, a dance teacher for thirty years

Oshogbo, Nigeria, 1997: The twenty-year-old, tin-walled minivan rumbles and shakes as we swerve between people, potholes, dogs, and goats on the road. You’d never guess we are only going twenty-five miles per hour by the way the Raggedy-Ann vehicle whistles and groans under the strain. The entourage, which includes my mother, father, brother, grandmother, a friend, and me, unloads from the minivan into a village, where we’re immediately swarmed.

They would show me a dance move, and as I made my best effort to move my white butt like they did, everyone would laugh uproariously!

When we look at candid pictures that our self-appointed documentarian takes, we see many amused faces, some with mouths wide open, mid-guffaw. Other onlookers appear confused about why these Americans are voluntarily making fools of themselves.

After all the laughter, they seemed to like watching me dance. They even asked me to teach them these dances I knew from Guinea. Although if they didn’t like what I was doing, they would just sit down and watch me again.

This was our “Big African Adventure,” as my family refers to it now, where we learned that, although we’d never know what it was like to be African, we could appreciate our role as Americans who have learned to make this culture our own.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2015: My mother has been dancing her whole life, beginning with her childhood training at The School of American Ballet in Manhattan. She studied dance at Bennington College and discovered African and Haitian dance after meeting my father in New Mexico in the early 1980s. She transformed her passion into a thriving practice as a dance teacher for thirty years. Although she’s a seasoned pro, she prepares for each class as if it’s her first, meticulously reviewing her new dance combinations and fretting over creating something that her students will like. At least twice a year, she donates performances in which she has invested hours of time choreographing, teaching, and rehearsing. When I ask her why she never charges anyone for these many hours of work, she says, “Because I am so lucky to get to do what I love every day.”

Before Santa Fe’s historic Railyard district became the town’s new urban mecca, my parents bought and renovated an old warehouse right beside the tracks. Coal-blackened earth surrounded the building, and the chain-link fence that enclosed our small, pothole-ridden parking lot turned muddy during summer monsoons. My father renovated the whole building, taking the time to disassemble, re-sand, and re-glue each piece of a salvaged basketball court floor—perhaps not saving money, but saving many trees.

Together, my parents created a light and open dance studio, said to be the best in New Mexico, where my mother could teach her African dance class. It just so happened that, years later, the back door of their building would open to a famously thriving farmer’s market pavilion, commuter rail line, bike path, walking promenade, and extraordinary park.

For the past seven years, every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday that I missed dance class, I sat in vigil, noting the designated times when I knew everyone was arriving, starting the warm-up, dancing across the floor together, and finally closing in a circle. My heart and soul were with them, even if I was hundreds or thousands of miles away. Dance class is where I am whole, being with new friends and old, witnessing families blossom, and supporting those in distress. It’s more than exercise or cultural transmission; it’s a community.

Hundreds of people have passed through my mom’s class over these several decades, including one young man from Nigeria who became a dear friend. Olabayo came from a family of artists and quickly became part of our own family. He lived with us on and off while he attended the College of Santa Fe. Olabayo became so much a part of our life that we decided to travel to Nigeria in 1997, when I was ten years old. This was not a trip to enrich my mother’s dance repertoire; it was for my family to learn about our friend’s background.

Among my most vivid memories was the first night we arrived in Lagos. The burning piles of trash along the road provided more illumination than the streetlights on the highway. I covered my nose, worried to see that people were sitting in the wafting, toxic, black smoke of burning plastic.

Bamenda, Cameroon, 2008: While I was traveling around the Northwest Province, working with farmers and small entrepreneurs as a Kiva Fellow, I started to notice that people were cooking their food in plastic baggies instead of the customary banana leaves. These non-biodegradable pieces of trash were then burned, because there was no formal waste management system. Again, I would cover my nose and cringe when I saw people sitting in the smoke, unaware of the harm in which they were placing themselves. I decided that I could do something about this, starting with the next generation: the children.

My newfound love and I worked for six months creating an environmental education program for the summer after I graduated from college. He did the logistical part, meeting with school administrators in Cameroon, while I proceeded with fundraising in the United States. I applied and competed for funding from many sources, ranging from grants for recent college graduates, to online social entrepreneurship competitions. Finally, I received the Ruth Dietrich Tuttle Prize from my alma mater, Smith College. We were able to teach classes for our Go Green Africa project as part of a pre-existing program of holiday courses, giving us access to students without having to recruit them independently.

This process of discovering what I wanted to do to serve an observed need, followed by investigating and pursuing funding, all while connecting with mentors and contacts, demonstrated the successful and rewarding procedure I have followed many times over the years. This is how I went about funding my passions, and after reading this book, you’ll know how to do it for yourself. Whether you had an experience as a child that has fueled a path through your life, like dance did for my mother, or you are exploring a new field, this book will tell you how to get funded.

Table of Contents

Icon Guide,
Chapter One: How I Arrived Here,
Section One: Find Your Story and Your Purpose,
Chapter Two: Tell Your Story,
Chapter Three: Personal Transformation—How It Happened,
Chapter Four: Learn How to Dream,
Section Two: Prepare the Application,
Chapter Five: Find a Mentor,
Chapter Six: Preparing for Big Fish,
Chapter Seven: Do the Research,
Chapter Eight: Elevator Pitch / Purpose Statement,
Chapter Nine: Line up Your Contacts,
Section Three: Just Do It! Write and Rewrite,
Chapter Ten: The Cheat Chapter, or Who, What, When, Where, How, Why, and Results,
Chapter Eleven: The Personal Statement,
Chapter Twelve: Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite (and Attention to Detail),
Section Four: Motivation for Your Process,
Chapter Thirteen: Be Optimistic, but Not Naïve,
Chapter Fourteen: Try, Try Again,
About the Author,
Afterword: You Got It! Now What?,
Additional Resources & Worksheets,

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