Text Size

SOS Pittsburgh Helps International Grad Student

SOS Pittsburgh helps Pitt grad student

Pelumi’s Story

Coming from Nigeria to Pittsburgh in August of 2019 on a generous tuition scholarship, Pelumi was excited to have the opportunity to study for his Master’s degree in International Development at Pitt. He had a plan: get a job, study hard, and graduate so he could be on his way to a future career in international energy policy. But things didn’t go quite as he expected.

Pelumi quickly learned that getting a job as an international student in the US was difficult, especially with his class schedule. Despite his experience and skills, he struggled to get work and found himself quickly using up what savings he had.

In need of money for rent and other basic living expenses, he called up a friend who had graduated from the same program to ask for advice. His friend recommended contacting social workers at JFCS for help through SOS Pittsburgh, which can provide small grants to people in emergency situations. “I called Claire to set up an appointment. We met in November. It was a long process, several weeks,” Pelumi said. “Finally, in January, I was able to get help covering two months’ rent!”

SOS Pittsburgh’s social workers work with clients to manage their immediate crisis and create a plan of action that ensures long-term well-being and self-sufficiency. Limited, one-time financial assistance made through the SOS Pittsburgh Fund may be able to help clients who meet specific eligibility criteria when no other resources or options exist in a financial emergency. 

SOS Pittsburgh Gives Hope

In January, Pelumi was able to get a job and start working.  He was able to become self-sufficient with help from SOS Pittsburgh, which covered the cost of his back-owed rent. “SOS has been a great assistance! I had exhausted my financial base and I had to reach out to my mentors for support. I also had to borrow money at some point. Now I can work to pay back my debt and save again,” he said.

“Growing up, I was brought up through the good will of individuals who are not my biological parents–people like my grandparents, mentors, and friends. So when I found myself in need of help as a grad student, it was difficult to ask for it,” Pelumi explained. “But it’s always good to ask for help if you have a clear vision of where you want to be in life. You have to be honest about your situation and your request. Don’t let yourself slide into depression.”

Through his new job and SOS Pittsburgh’s help, Pelumi has a lot of hope for his future. “People see your success, but it’s never always that way. Everyone who is successful went through difficult times. I see this as part of my success story,” Pelumi explained. “Talents are universal, but opportunities are not. …Sometimes you need a little help to actualize your dreams.”


SOS Pittsburgh is doing great work, but our funds are limited! If you’d like to financially support our Critical Needs services and Food Pantry, click here to donate.