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Two UK students are using their bodies to make money—and no, it’s not prostitution.
Faced with a struggling economy, rising tuition costs and spring break just around the corner, many students are trying to make some extra cash without getting a job.
For Emily Cedargren and Sarah Hahn, using bodily resources is the solution.
Cedargren, journalism, Chinese and Spanish junior, is battling the common plight of college students of trying to graduate debt free.
Despite having a 3.7 GPA and taking full course loads—she has 81 hours and is classified as a junior in her second year at UK—Cedargren does not receive any financial assistance to pay for college.
Cedargren graduated from high school in China and is not eligible for KEES money as an out-of-state student. Struggling to pay her tuition, Cedargren researched ways for college students to make money.
One of the ways Cedargren found was by selling eggs for in vitro fertilization to The World Egg Bank in Lexington.
“I was just completely desperate for a way to pay for college, and I’ve kind of run out of solutions,” Cedargren said. “I can’t get a scholarship to save my life. I was Googling stupid ways for college kids to make money, and I realized that you can make a ton of money by egg donation.”
Cedargren found that the average compensation for egg donation in Kentucky is $4,000 and that nearly half of egg donors are college students.
After the first donation is successfully completed, egg donors can raise the price of their eggs for future donations. Cedargren decided to go through with the process and began looking for a donor site in the surrounding area.
“The hardest part was just getting started, because it takes a while to find a site that will let you donate if you’re under 21,” Cedargren said.
The World Egg Bank agreed to see Cedargren and she is currently in the process of her first egg donation.
Cedargren created an online profile on the World Egg Bank’s website that allows recipients to select donors based on preference. The profiles are listed by number so that donors remain anonymous other than their appearance.
Cedargren had to include pictures of herself, details about her education, talents, hobbies, special skills and an extensive family health history in her online profile.
The World Egg Bank contacted Cedargren shortly after her profile was posted with an interested recipient.
“It’s almost like filling out a college application; you want to promote yourself,” Cedargren said. “The people who are looking for a potential donor are looking for someone who suits them. For example, if they played sports in high school, they may want a donor who is athletic.”
Cedargren will complete the donation process in February when she has surgery to remove her eggs. The procedure is a minor outpatient surgery, but Cedargren will be under anesthesia.
In order to prepare for surgery, Cedargren had to take fertility drugs by self-injections, regulate her cycle with the egg recipient’s by taking birth control pills and have regular check-ups with her physician. She also had to take several personality and psychology tests.
Cedargren said that egg donation allows her to be “proactive” in battling college debt. She plans on donating twice a semester to pay for her tuition.
“It’s a really beautiful thing if someone’s paying for my education, and in exchange, I’m giving them the chance to have a kid,” Cedargren said.
“This is giving me my education and my future, and it’s giving someone else the chance to have a family. It’s a good trade-off.”
For 24-year-old Hahn, it was not necessarily a need for money but a passion for her field of concentration that led her into some extra funds.
Hahn graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2008 and is studying for her Master of Fine Arts at UK.
She first considered modeling for a figure drawing class when one of her professors needed someone to fill in for another model.
“There was a model who was going to be absent for an evening and the instructor was desperately looking for someone, so I contacted her afterwards,” Hahn said.
Hahn said that the anxiety that came with her first modeling experiences has nearly subsided.
“I’ve done performance art too, and there’s this brief moment where there’s a little bit of anxiety that I’m already there and everyone knows what
I’m going to do. I’m here to take off my clothes. That’s what I’m going to do,” Hahn said.
Hahn attributes her ability to stay calm and hold figure poses to her experience with ballet and modern dance.
“It’s a mixture of classical poses and more naturalistic poses. You want to see a lot of twists in space. The biggest benefit that dance gives me is the balance to hold a pose; the shortest is a minute long, the longest is an hour,” Hahn said.
Hahn gets paid $30 to pose for three-hour classes during the week and $50 for three-hour classes on Saturday mornings.
“It’s not really about the money,” Hahn said. “The extra cash is definitely nice, but for me it’s a way to get a little bit out of my comfort zone.”
The problem with trying to make money off of figure modeling is that the same models are not used repetitively in the same week.
“You don’t actually do it that often because they try to recycle people through. It’s not going to give you a steady income, but it will give you a little bit of extra cash,” Hahn said.
Despite the physical strain, Hahn described modeling as an “enjoyable, relaxing” job.
“I guess like for me it’s not that private,” Hahn said. “I mean, I’m taking my clothes off for complete strangers, but for anyone that has ever entertained the thought of doing it, it makes you feel more comfortable with yourself because no one in that room is judging you.”