This “Hollywood actress” and the real student loan scandal
Last Thursday the Saint-Louis post-expedition published a brief story of a “Hollywood actress” who was sued by the state student loan manager, Missouri Higher Education Loans Authority (MOHELA). Diana Emuge, the story goes, owed nearly $ 77,000 in principal and interest on loans taken out to attend Saint Louis University nearly ten years ago.
The story, along with a photo of 12-year-old Emuge from the newspaper’s archives, was posted on stltoday.com and was promoted on the newspaper’s Facebook page. The vitriol he inspired would only surprise someone who was unfamiliar with the commentary sections of newspapers – or who somehow failed to notice the remarkable villainy-centric villainy. breed that has become quite common online. One reader called Emuge a “greedy ghetto rat.” Another emailed her anonymously using the n word and c word, the essentials she needed to pay her bills, not just to collect welfare.
Diana Emuge, for the record, does not benefit from social assistance. She’s not a “Hollywood actress” either, not really. Yes, she has some credits on imdb.com, but not in the movies you’ve heard of. She self-published a book and starred in a short film that she directed herself, but she has a much less glamorous day job. His address is in Reseda – a blue-collar part of the San Fernando Valley that’s about as far from Beverly Hills as you can get, metaphorically speaking. The place hasn’t changed much since Tom Petty tried his luck in “Free Fallin ‘” – or since the hard parts of scrabble The Karate Kid were filmed there.
the Post-shipment the story shocked her.
“I really thought I was dreaming,” she says. After receiving an email request for comment, she wentogle herself and the reporter, and the story was already live, with its titillating title. “That was news to me – what big movie was I in to be called a ‘Hollywood actress’?”
Even more infuriating were the bad assumptions of the commentators. “I was hurt that people misjudged the situation and assumed I was stupid,” she says. “They were calling me a bad omen, saying I had to pay back taxpayers’ money – they didn’t realize these loans were from the Bank of America, not the federal government.”
Emuge grew up in St. Charles, the daughter of two SLU graduates. She did everything she was supposed to do. She started at a community college to save money, then entered SLU and worked hard while she was there. She graduated magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her focus was marketing and she tried to land a job in her field, but no one bit even with the internship she landed.
“The only marketing jobs I recorded paid $ 9 / hour plus commission or were based solely on commission,” she explains to RFT. “[It’s] stressful when you know you have loans to repay. ”
And repayment quickly became a very real problem. In addition to the Bank of America loans serviced by MOHELA, she had other federal government loans, which she says she is up to date on. Her father fell very ill while at SLU – he died six months after graduating – and her mother was distracted. She didn’t fully realize how much she had borrowed and what her responsibilities were, until it was too late. MOHELA alone wanted $ 550 a month. (Through his lawyer, MOHELA declined to comment on the trial.)
To make matters worse, some of these loans had interest rates as high as ten percent – and, the loan documents show, her repayment duty wouldn’t even go away if she died. The original principal of $ 46,000 increased, compounded by interest and late fees.
Emuge doesn’t want to name her current employer or get too deep into her financial issues. After the PD story, however, she released a blog post trying to set the record straight. “I am not refusing to pay my student loans,” she writes. “I experienced financial difficulties which made it difficult for me to temporarily pay the loan. I have entered into an agreement with MOHELA and I will start paying my loan again. ” The first time she heard about the trial, she said, was when she received this email from Post-shipment writer.
So how did Emuge end up in the news? You could blame an unfortunate confluence of factors. It was only because her alleged debt was over $ 75,000 and because she lives out of state that the case went to federal court, not in a state. MOHELA has prosecuted countless people in state court; in federal court it’s much rarer, and it probably caught the attention of the PD. A quick Google search would have revealed his page on IMDB. On a bad news day, that’s all it takes sometimes.
But the problem, I think, is bigger than that. Ten years ago, if an article like this appeared in the newspaper, it would be a brief, and an article that would be buried somewhere in the local pages. The internet, however, amplifies the more fragile stories – once a story is posted on the PD’s Facebook page, it has the potential to gain as much attention as the newspaper’s A-1 main story. It’s not the journalist’s fault – but the result can be devastating for the real person at the center of the story.
To make matters worse, every time someone Google searches for “Diana Emuge” the story lives on. A memoir buried in a daily newspaper 30 years ago has never had this kind of archival power. And while PD readers may linger on this story for a minute, write a nasty comment, and move on, for Emuge it’s an open sore that continues to bleed.
Beyond that, it is a missed opportunity. If MOHELA is chasing a magna cum laude graduate from one of our top universities because she can’t pay off the massive debt she’s racked up to get a degree, well, maybe the problem isn’t. that she lives in Reseda and scrambles to earn a degree. living. Perhaps the problem stems from our higher education system – the easy federally guaranteed loans that have driven up college costs and the heavy red tape for promising young students so that before you know how bad it is. It’s hard to sign a life with $ 46,000 in loans and 10% interest.
It’s a story worth telling. But it’s not the one who Post-shipment Told. And who can blame them? Deadlines are constant in journalism in 2015. A click is a click. A defaulting “Hollywood actress” is just as alluring as this old chestnut about welfare queens stealing taxpayers blindly. This is something we can all tsk-tsk on – then move on to the next title.