Turkmenistan is a country located more than 6000 miles from Macon, but one hopeful student, Batyr Matyakubov, made the journey. Now he's in danger of being sent home.
Despite having a presidential scholarship, which Matyakubov said he was extremely grateful for, additional costs of living, visas and other paperwork have threatened to end his time at the university. Despite support from the Office of International Affairs, he still needs to raise $22,000 to make it through his spring and fall semesters in 2024.
Without that money, Matyakubov can't even register for his next semester.
"I'm very terrified of the fact that I might lose my next semester here because I have not been able to register for my classes," he said.
Raising the money will not only allow him to stay, Matyakubov said, it will also help him get the paperwork he needs to claim residence and begin working part-time in Macon to afford school moving forward.
"I was told I can actually begin working outside of campus next year," Matyakubov said. "Which would allow me to earn enough [for the next years]."
Growing up in Turkmenistan, Matyakubov said that he felt and experienced Cold War holdovers in his homeland. He said that Americans are typically perceived as dangerous and unfriendly, but living in Georgia, he has found that to be untrue.
"You know, the bias from the town, they are Russia-affiliated, they believe Americans can look you in the face and smile and lie to you," Matyakubov said. "But ever since my first arrival, landing in Atlanta and Ms. Elizabeth coming and all the welcoming warmth made me feel home like I am in a bigger family."
He is currently raising money on his GoFundMe, which details more of his story and life before leaving Turkmenistan and even more about why he wants to stay at Mercer University. It also details his journey and effort to come to America to study in college.
"I chose Mercer because it was very beautiful," said Matyakubov. "I did my best, and Mercer was there since the beginning of my search."
Henry Keating '24 is a Journalism and History student at Mercer. He has worked at The Cluster as SGA correspondent, State and Local News Editor, Managing Editor and now as the Editor-in-Chief. Henry has held internships at the Macon Newsroom, Macon Telegraph, and Greenville Post and Courier. He enjoys backpacking, rom-coms, pottery and photography.