At the beginning of this year, I was excited to be learning and travelling while studying abroad in Europe. I was housed in Germany in January 2020, then abruptly shipped home in March. The COVID-19 epidemic began as a misinformed, downplayed virus that will just “pass.” However, within a day of the Trump global advisory, I was to go home immediately. Thus, I had to somehow figure out how to pay over $2,000 for a plane ticket from Germany to the United States. In the end, I had to clear up one of my credit cards (this taxing financial burden at the time) to pay for it. My college claims to reimburse us, but at 2 weeks later it still hasn’t come. Secondly, I petitioned to my domestic university to stay on campus instead of going back home for homelessness concerns as well as health concerns. The main issue is that colleges do not seem to consider the emotional burden that they are placing on their students. I am travelling during this peak virus transmission, thus risking me either catching it or passing it on to hundreds of people. Most importantly, I live with my grandmother when I go home, and I don’t want her illness and possible death to be at the result of my presence. Additionally, I have to go back to New Orleans. First of all, we’re already still being neglected from the 2005 Katrina situation. Secondly, due to Mardi Gras season just passing, I am at the heart of COVID-19 transmission. At the moment, we are quickly rising to be one of the most infected/impacted cities in America (and the world). I fear for my health and safety at all times now. Colleges are dismissing students from, for some people, their only form of stable housing and financial support. Myself and many other students have odd situations at home. Directly, my colleagues have gathered together to start a movement and resist their evictions, declaring OccupyPomona. I have been impacted academically, physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. It’s depressing thinking that I have to return to my domestic university and pretend that none of this ever happened.
FGLI COVID-19 Stories
COVID-19 has greatly impacted many people around the world, especially first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) students. With this special edition COVID-19 blog initiative, Rise First hopes to achieve three key objectives:
- raise awareness of the challenges FGLI students are experiencing during this unprecedented crisis,
- provide a platform for FGLI students to share their stories,
- offer support to the best of our ability (through financial assistance and a curated COVID-19 resources list)
Rise First is honored to be able to provide a platform for student authors to opt-in to sharing their heartfelt and inspiring experiences with others so that no one will feel alone during these trying times. The inspiring stories published here are unedited to fully reflect each author’s voice. They are weaved together by common threads of determination, hope, and a sense of community - we truly are all in this together.
The students named in the blog entries below have opted-in to display their bios and have provided headshots for publishing.
Posts from students at Pomona College
The COVID-19 virus outbreak has felt like a whirlwind crashing into the rhythm of everyone’s life due to its unprecedented effects. In a relatively short amount of time, most of the world has been forced to readjust their lives in efforts towards social distancing. One second, I was at college attending my classes, my safe haven from my issues at home. The next, I am at home with my family learning to readjust myself to online classes and learning at home. Going home initially brought a sense of insecurity and fear in me. With all of my siblings home, I would become another mouth to feed and another stressor on my family. At college, I had financial aid and work-study, which covered all of my expenses. At home, my parents were both looking for stable jobs. My mom did not work due to attending school herself, and my dad would be limited as an Uber driver.
Upon coming home, this time has definitely not been easy, but it has been easier to be surrounded by family. My family did not see me like another mouth to feed, and their main focus has been to keep everyone healthy. Yes, the same financial issues exist. My parents are still trying to scramble to find work. However, this time has also been a time for me to enjoy the support system that I have readily available for me in the form of my family, one that promises laughter, warm hugs, and encouragement when I need it.