MILLERSVILLE, Pa. — Millersville University sophomore Makenzie Wagner lost her mom Krista suddenly to stage four pancreatic cancer last April.
"We're like peas in a pod, like we're very, very close," Wagner said. "It was definitely very shocking because, it all happened so fast. And I was not expecting that at all."
However, for Wagner, her hardships went beyond her mother's unexpected passing.
When she adjusted her FAFSA for the upcoming academic year, she lost financial aid she needed to pay her tuition. The University would not allow her to enroll for the spring semester until a $5,224 balance from the fall was paid in full.
"I was still trying to figure out what I could do, if I could get loans, like I was trying really hard," Wagner said. "I just sat down one day and I was like, 'God, if this is where I'm supposed to be, you're gonna provide.'”
A friend’s mom stepped in, starting a GoFundMe.
"This was Tuesday night," Mary Louise Miller, who started the fundraiser, said. "Then the next day, I started getting obsessed and looking at it all through the course of the day and we had reached over $2,000."
In just a few days, donations surpassed the amount Wagner needed to get back to class.
"Seeing how happy Mackenzie was, and just the relief on her face, it was very good to see," Miller said.
For the Chester County native, helping Wagner was more than just a nice gesture. It was personal.
"My father died from pancreatic cancer when I was 10," Miller said. "I understand the struggle."
Wagner says she was shocked by all the support she received.
"It was really insane to see that, because I just didn't think that that was possible for so many people to care," Wagner said.
Miller plans to keep the GoFundMe going. After financial aid, Wagner will owe $1600 for the spring as she follows in her mom’s footsteps to become a teacher.
"I'm going to get a teaching job, and I've already had people offer because they know my mom was a teacher and they were like, 'If you're anything like her, we know that you'll be amazing,'" Wagner said.