Contact: Michael Tullier, APR, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
In response to a host of obstacles and hardships threatening students’ ability to continue their studies remotely, Tuskegee University recently announced the availability of a donor-funded Student Emergency Fund.
Gifts to the Student Emergency Fund Campaign, launched on Friday, March 27, quickly exceeded its $50,000 goal over a weekend — and support has grown to more than $70,000. Alumni and friends’ resounding and quick response has meant that leaders in the university’s Division of Student Affairs have already funded more than 100 requests — and counting — resulting from students’ efforts to adapt to unexpected transitions.
“The past few weeks have been a fairly quick transition to online services, and many of our students and their families are still adjusting,” said Dr. Kimberly Scott, vice president for student affairs. “The transition has been sudden, unexpected and an adjustment for all of us. As our students — and the university as a whole — continue to adjust, we are learning of needs we must address as we make their continuing education a top priority.”
Working with the Office of Information Technology, the Division of Student Affairs is using the Student Emergency Fund to provide computers and other essential needs for those students who do not have employment. The fund will also provide supplemental food and other personal essentials through the Tiger’s Den Food Pantry to students still residing on campus and in the community that they are unable to receive through our campus dining services, and travel funds to stranded students so they can return home when it is safe for them to do so.
“There are six children in my family, both my parents are currently out of work, and no one in our house is able to find work,” explains Hannah, who lives in Elk Grove, California, and was among the first round of students benefiting from the Student Emergency Fund. “I have been traveling to the homes of my friends and family just to access Wi-Fi to complete my coursework. I didn’t have a fluid source of income to cover storage of my residence hall items and internet expenses to complete online coursework. I’m so very thankful.”
Thanks to a referral from a faculty member in the Navy ROTC program, and support from the Student Emergency Fund, Edward can meet his academic, tuition and other financial obligations.
“I just joined the Navy ROTC, and I was excited about returning from Spring break,” the Selma, Alabama, native said. “I live on my own and work to pay for my education and rent. But, because of the pandemic, my job was shut down. I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent until Lt. Thomas George of the Navy ROTC program referred me to the emergency fund. I am very grateful. Thank you for supporting me.”
Scott emphasized that the Student Emergency Fund is just one way — but a very tangible way — her team is striving to keep students engaged with the university virtually from both an instruction and social standpoint.
“It’s times like these that we all see the true spirit of the Tuskegee University community,” Scott said. “Because of others’ generosity, we will be able to help our students and their families with some of their most basic needs. However, every day, we’re learning of new hardships faced by our student body. We greatly appreciate all that our alumni and friends have done — and will continue to do — to help Tuskegee students adjust to this new normal during this public health crisis.”
Anyone wishing to make a gift to the campaign — or add to a previous donation — can do so online through April 15.
“The university is continuing to identify ways we can position our students to finish the spring semester strong and return in the fall,” noted Phillip Howard, vice president for advancement. “In addition to this effort, we will keep our alumni and friends apprised of new ways they can help Mother Tuskegee and her students in the weeks and months ahead, and in the face of his historic challenge.”
More details about the university’s response to the coronavirus pandemic are available at www.tuskegee.edu/coronavirus.
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