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 University of Houston


COVID-19 Author Image

Shelby Banda - University of Houston

To fear or not to fear ? What’s it like living in the COVID-19 situation as a first generation/low income student ? Well the simple answer to that is not easy! College itself is already tough, and now trying to juggle everything at home living with two grandparents who depend on social security to survive, my now cut off hours from work to help pay bills, no WiFi , living in a home setting that is impossible to focus on school work/taking exams, my university telling students we need to be able to work with them on an online class setting, but little do they know it’s taking about two additional weeks for the “free WiFi” to arrive. In this matter, it’s easier said than done.

I remind myself as Serena Williams has said “I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside, my desire to win is always stronger.” I know this won’t be easy and I know this isn’t going to be forever. My grandparents need me to finish strong and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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COVID-19 Author Image

Student - University of Houston

Life is already difficult as both a first-generation and low-income college student. All the problems that I already have are further exemplified because of COVID-19. Things such as financial security and learning from home in a stressful environment have negatively impacted my life.

In America, 78% of workers live paycheck to paycheck and unfortunately, my family fits this criterion. Because my parents can’t read English, I constantly help manage my parent’s bills such as utilities, credit card bills, and groceries. When we were forced to stock up on supplies due to the outbreak, I was fully aware that my parents were over drafting there accounts just to be able to pay for groceries. This stress does not help when continuing online school as an engineering student. I am usually able to get out of the house and study in an environment that isn’t stressful. However, because I must stay at home, I am forced to do my engineering studies in a stressful environment. I have noticed that while studying at home, a lot of stressful thoughts arise that distract me from my studies.

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