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One small step for Sedro-Woolley teen towards future in rocket science

Katya Matsko is 15 years old and already knows what she wants to do with her life.

The Sedro-Woolley High School freshman wants to work at NASA as a rocket scientist. She also knows she wants to attend Stanford University.

“I just think Stanford is a great community,” Matsko told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

In a perfect coalescing of Matsko’s interest, Stanford offers a summer program for high school students interested in math. She applied and got accepted, but then hit a snag. The program costs $7,000 and Stanford didn’t offer Matsko any financial aid.

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That’s when Sedro-Woolley High School counselor Jennifer Daley got involved.

“I just felt like she really deserved this opportunity,” Daley told Rantz. “I didn’t understand why they didn’t offer her any financial assistance.”

Daley decided if Stanford wouldn’t help, she would see if the community could come to make it happen instead. Daley created a GoFundMe project and then sent the link all over.

“I’m kind of a writer at heart,” Daley said. “So I wrote out her story. I wrote how I felt about it and how she felt about it. She contributed some to the piece, and I posted it on Facebook.”

This strategy worked.

“The response was quick and the response was amazing,” Daley said. “Within two and a half days we reached about, I want to say, $6,400.”

The funds poured in and local media noticed. Matsko and Daley were interviewed on KING-5. All the attention took Matsko off guard.

“I thought nobody would really contribute,” Matsko said. “I’m just very happy. Shocked, but happy.”

In a weird twist, after they’d already raised the money, they received another email from Stanford. This time, the school said they were offering Matsko a full ride.

Although the timing seemed a little ironic, that’s not how Matsko looks at the situation.

“I’m pretty sure that Stanford, without the funds, may not have  actually looked at it again and provided financial aid,” Matsko said. “It’s been quite an adventure with Stanford, but I do realize that a wish doesn’t become a reality without hard work and a lot of determination.”

For Daley, it doesn’t really matter where the funds came from, she’s just glad one of her exceptional students gets a chance to pursue her dream.

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“As a freshman coming in to speak with me day one and saying ‘I’m going to be a rocket scientist, this is what I want to do, I’m going to go to Stanford,'” Daley said. “Completely, like, one-in-a-million, it doesn’t happen.”

So what happened to all the GoFundMe money?

“It is all back in everybody’s bank accounts,” Daley said.

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