Alumni, Donors’ Gifts to Emergency Fund Testament to Value of Oswego Education
Hundreds of SUNY Oswego students have received direct aid from the Student Emergency Fund for everything from groceries, utility and phone bills and rental support to bus tickets, printer paper and ink, graduate school application costs and insurance payments. Most of the students have received grants ranging from $200 to $600.
“In a typical semester I work two jobs,” said Christopher Darby ’21, a communication and social interactions major. “I work to provide myself food, and pay for my car insurance and phone bill. Being unable to work two jobs has made it extremely hard to keep up with certain expenses.”
To avoid falling too far behind, Chris applied for and received some support from the Student Emergency Fund that has enabled him to focus on his schoolwork.
“I’m glad that in tough times I was able to fall back on my Laker family,” he said.
Since March, a total of 508 have donated a total of $355,000, including a $50,000 donation from an alumna who wished to remain anonymous and a $50,000 matching grant from SUNY Impact Fund.
“Our students needed help, and our alumni and donors heeded the call to support those who were struggling to meet even their most basic needs,” said College President Deborah F. Stanley. “Such an outpouring of support strengthens our community, not only in terms of resources but also in lifting our spirits and uniting us to advance the common good.”
Marketing major Erin Murphy ’21 typically earns enough money through her summer job at a restaurant in her hometown of Oakdale, N.Y., to assist her with her college expenses. But this year, the restaurant never opened.
She applied for and received financial support to help her cover her rent, car insurance and food.
“I would like to thank everyone who donated to the Student Emergency Fund,” she said.
For some, the change from campus-based classes to online classes not only disrupted their campus jobs and the delivery format of their academic instruction, it also shook the stability afforded by three steady meals in a dining hall, reliable internet service, access to computer labs and their own space in a residence hall, Penfield Library cubicle or their favorite study spot on campus.
A sophomore who wished to remain anonymous explained how the coronavirus has put unexpected pressure on family resources.
“My family is struggling financially,” the student said. “Most recently, the WiFi and cable were shut off, which stopped both me and my sister from doing school work.” This student received support from the Emergency Fund to help get the internet restored.
“Thank you for the help for my family,” the student said. “From the bottom of our hearts, we are grateful to Oswego.”
Juan DaSilva ’83 of Kissimmee, Fla., said he can relate. He remembers clearly the panic he felt before his last semester at SUNY Oswego when he realized that he was $400 short on his tuition bill.
“That doesn’t sound like a lot now, but it sounded insurmountable at the time,” he said. “If I hadn’t been able to find the help that I did, I probably wouldn’t have completed my degree.”
As a first-generation college student and an immigrant from Venezuela, he said he considers himself the perfect example of the American dream. He took advantage of all the opportunities afforded by the country, including a college education, and today is able to give back to his country and his alma mater.
“Helping people get an education is a good investment, and it benefits all of society to give people opportunities to improve themselves,” he said. “Today, I am at a point where I can look back and be grateful that someone reached out to help me stay in school. I was one of those students who needed help.”
Professor Leigh Wilson learned about the fund during a faculty meeting last spring in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and said she saw the wisdom in a fund that could be distributed discreetly to the students with the greatest need for it.
The money raised for the Student Emergency Fund is managed by staff members in the Student Affairs office. They make recommendations to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jerri Howland based on information they receive from students about their specific needs or when they are made aware of a student’s need through another source, such as a faculty member, another staff member or the student’s peer.
“Our students are proud people,” Leigh said. “They are smart, passionate, creative, can-do individuals and have a great deal to be proud about. This fund gives them a way to ask for help that is much, much easier and that, in the end, honors all of the pride that they have so richly earned.”
To support the fund, please make a gift online or contact the office at 315-312-3003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the college response to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the website alumni.oswego.edu/covid19.
If you are a SUNY Oswego student in need of immediate financial assistance, please email email@example.com.
Student Emergency Fund
Last spring, the college established the Student Emergency Fund to assist students who faced unexpected situations and hardship due to the pandemic.
- Total Donors: 508
- Total Support: $355,316
- Student Recipients: (as of 1/20/21) 265 students have received payments for a total of $127,769.69