CHICAGO — An astrochemistry student’s future is in jeopardy after Social Security told her school she was dead.
Ashley Walker is a student at Chicago State University where she is majoring in chemistry and double minoring in physics and math.
“I have always been fascinated with space and want to continue my research,” Walker wrote on her GoFundMe page. “I want to make a difference in a positive way in this fascinating world of ours.”
Walker realized something was wrong when she went with her mother to purchase a car in Nov. 2016.
“I was denied credit which we found odd because I had good credit,” Walker wrote. “My mother offered a down payment and I was still denied.”
That same day Walker tried buying internet service and enrolling for the spring semester, but was told there was a problem with her social security card.
Walker and her mother went to the Social Service Administration and was informed that she died on Aug. 31, 2016. That was the day her father died after battling lung cancer.
While she is listed as being an informant on her father’s death certificate, credit agencies believe she is dead as well.
“Experian declared me dead, informed the credit card companies, and my credit cards were put on hold, Walker wrote. “The credit bureau refused to budge, and even accused me of fraud.”
Walker wrote on her GoFundMe page that her goal is to be the first black woman to receive a Ph.D in Astrochemistry. She was offered a fellowship at Harvard for the summer. But her fellowship is in jeopardy because of the error.
“If I am not back in school, I will lose my fellowship for Harvard this summer,” Walker said. “I am not credit worthy now for loans this is why I am asking for help.”
As of 4:45 p.m., Walker has raised $4,720 of her $20K goal. There have been 120 donors in 18 hours.
Friends and strangers alike from around the internet left Walker messages of positivity on the page.
“As one woman in astronomy to another, go get ’em” wrote Nancy Adams-Wolk.
“The persistence and determination you have shown in dealing with this bureaucratic nightmare is exactly what you will need as you continue on your chosen academic path. I am pleased to be able to help in a small way. You rock!” another GoFundMe donor posted.
WLS-TV reports Chicago State has been very helpful with getting her paperwork in order. She is optimistic that she will be declared as “alive” before the spring semester.
PIX11 News has reached out to SSA but has not heard back.