COVID-19 Blog

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:

  1. raise awareness of the challenges FGLI students are experiencing during this unprecedented crisis,
  2. provide a platform for FGLI students to share their stories,
  3. 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 Stanford University


COVID-19 Author Image

Student - Stanford University

COVID-19 hit me pretty hard, but hit my family even harder. I lost the one source of income I had at school and was forced to leave. My stepfather was laid off work and my mother, a janitor, has been made to work twice as hard for the same pay. It’s hard to hear her come home every day and wince at the pain in her feet and hands from so much disinfecting.

My family has always been tight on money so it’s nothing new, but this, this is something different. At home, I am an extra mouth to feed and I’m lucky enough that Stanford says they will provide me with money for food, but what about my family? You see, as a first-generation and low-income student, the money I make or receive in aid, I use for myself AND my family. A lot of universities don’t take into account that the money they give us, isn’t solely spent on us. It’s not just for my expenses. A lot of us send money home. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak increasing our financial insecurity, how will we continue to pay for rent, utilities, gas and food? I’m scared. I’m scared to see what the future will hold.

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COVID-19 Author Image

Student - Stanford University

Due to the university shut down and the coronavirus spread, I have returned home to live with my mother and two siblings. Due to the danger of the coronavirus, my mom has been laid off from her job due to the lack of customers. She has been actively searching for a new one but everything as of now is uncertain and up in the air. On top of that, my mother is pregnant and will soon bring a baby boy into the world in June. I have been doing everything I can with my small amount of savings to help out, but unfortunately my savings won’t hold on for much longer. If things don’t get better, I will be forced to work 50+ hours a week while managing school work to support my family. I hope that this virus will pass so that my mom can start working again. In this time of crisis, any help would be much appreciated.

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COVID-19 Author Image

Wei Huan Chen - Stanford University

The night before I left for my home, I took a walk around the campus. As I walked, different news came back to my head. “Students who went home should not return to campus after spring break,” “winter quarter will be shifted to online format,” “Santa Clara County has become a hot spot for coronavirus,” “students are still expected to take the finals.” Instead of calming me down, the walk has made me more anxious, so I went back to the dorm to prepare for departing tomorrow. To me, my home is distressing. My parents are in constant arguments and my neighbors constantly create noises even though I informed them about their noises more than a dozen times. Back in my home, my ability to focus on my academics went down significantly. The fact that my apartment does not have wifi made my study conditions even worse. A few days after I returned home, both my parents were laid off because of the coronavirus. My family officially lost its income source. In addition to working on my projects and preparing for my finals, now I started to look for jobs in my hometown. Unfortunately, many restaurants are closed and no longer hire people. The distressing home environment and my family’s drastically changed financial situation made me anxious. “What am I supposed to do now? Things are not looking great for me and my family?”’ Despite my constant thinking in my head, I can’t come up with any good solutions. A few more days later, I received an email from my school, informing me that students are expected to finish the upcoming spring quarter through online courses. At this point, I no longer know whether my phone’s data is a blessing or a curse, for that all the news I received was bad. My parents are illiterate and can’t speak English, so I know the only person who can help my family and me is myself. After a day of sleeping and taking a break from everything, I started to look for resources. I sent an email to the financial aid office to inform them of my family’s changed financial situation to ask for additional aid. I looked for online jobs such as tutoring and applied for them. I also applied for online jobs at my University for the upcoming spring quarter, hoping I can get them. Right now, I did all I can and all I can do now is to wait for the reply from my school’s financial aid office and my job applications.

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