South Jersey college student gets $100,000 from Justin Bieber
A Stockton University student who is dedicating her life to helping at-risk people through social work got a welcome surprise last week when Justin Bieber personally signed a giant $100,000 check made out to her.
“I’m still in shock,” Julie Coker, a senior and Bieber fan from Union Beach, said. “The check is in my room at home but I still feel like it almost didn’t happen.”
She also received tickets to one of Bieber's upcoming shows.
Beiber, who Coker went to see in concert when she was 13, presented the check in person on Feb. 7 on MTV in honor of Coker's work with Active Minds, a mental health awareness initiative with campus chapters across the nation. Coker is president of the Stockton chapter and also serves on the national Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.
The Stockton chapter of Active Minds holds 50 events each year and Coker has participated in projects aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide prevention on campuses.
Coker has personal experience with mental health and counseling. She struggled with depression anxiety and has discussed how she was helped by counselors at Red Bank Regional High School after her family lost their home in Superstorm Sandy.
Her group advisor, Nathan Morell, said he admires Coker for her creativity.
“Now she can go on, get her master’s degree, and help save the world," he said.
Coker said the $100,000 will allow her to start her career "on the strongest financial footing possible and will enable me to help even more people." Part of the money will help pay for graduate school after she obtained her undergraduate social work degree in May.
“You don’t go into social work for the money but for the deep desire to help people," she said.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.