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‘I knew these were the people I wanted to help’: High school senior helping Chandler teachers with student loan debt

It’s a graduation requirement to do something to give back to the community at Basha High School. One senior is using her service project to offer scholarships.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — In a pile of applications from teachers in the Chandler Unified School District, are vulnerable stories. 

One is of a full-time teacher working part-time at Chick-Fil-A to make ends meet. Another is of a teacher and their son sharing the same cost-effective meal day after day. 

These stories are just some of the many that Jadyn Ocampo has read through. 

“I had no idea that these were the responses I was going to get,” Ocampo said. 

Giving back to the community is a requirement for graduating seniors at Basha High School, as part of their “Basha Gives Back” program.

After noticing how the pandemic affected teachers, Ocampo started brainstorming with her mom, Sara Ocampo.

“Maybe we could come up with money to use for the classroom supplies? Or I don’t know. Something just to help,” Jadyn Ocampo said. 

The pair, landing on something bigger. 

“Jadyn has big ideas,” Sara Ocampo said. 

“What if we created a scholarship specifically for helping them pay off their student debt?” Jadyn Ocampo said. 

Jadyn Ocampo said that, as the applications came in, she began to realize the number of teachers who are still paying off student loans. 

“The paradox with teaching is that in order to make more you’ll have to go back to school and get more degrees,” Jadyn Ocampo said. “Which results in accumulating more and more debt, and your pay doesn’t proportionally compensate to make those debt payments.” 

The goal they created was $1,000 for one teacher in the district. 

“The Al and Lori Ocampo Scholarship,” Jadyn Ocampo said. “Those are my grandparents, and they have worked in education their entire lives.” 

Jadyn is accepting applications from Chandler Unified School District teachers up until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14. Teachers from Chandler unified can apply here.

Jadyn Ocampo said her grandma has served as everything from a teacher to a principal, and her grandpa was a longtime coach of several sports. 

Her parents are educators too. 

“Everybody in my family works in the school one way or another,” Jadyn Ocampo said. 

With the support she’s felt from her teachers not only inside, but outside the classroom, too. 

“I knew that these were the people that I wanted to help,” Jadyn Ocampo said. 

“It’s really just the ultimate goal for a mother is to know that her kiddo is going to be successful, but she’s going to devote her life to others,” Sara Ocampo said. 

Jadyn Ocampo’s current goal is to give a $1,000 scholarship to one applicant, and two $500 scholarships to two other applicants. 

But, she’s hoping to help more Chandler teachers. 

“I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how I can help the other 30,” Jadyn Ocampo said. “I just cannot walk away from this project without doing everything I possibly can to help these people.” 

Jadyn Ocampo said she’s hoping to award the scholarships by the end of the month. If you want to help Jadyn help more Chandler teachers, you can donate here.

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