The COVID -19 pandemic has negatively affected just about everyone throughout the world over the past year. While almost no one has been left untouched, studies have suggested that younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.
Given the above facts, it’s not surprising that the students we support have experienced an even higher degree of financial insecurity and emotional distress. A Bridge for Kids student (and our new star reporter) Angelina Gonzalez interviewed several students at The Pruess School, UCSD who discussed how the pandemic has impacted everything from their daily routines to financial security.
Meliya Russom, Class of 2022, explained, “My father didn’t work for many months, so we lacked financial security. This is an even bigger problem given the [fact] that I will start applying to colleges this fall and with that comes the issue of financial aid and tuition. I must work hard to apply for scholarships and seek financial support for my college education because my family can’t do so.”
In addition to her financial sponsorship, Meliya is looking forward to applying for (and hopefully winning) an ABFK college scholarship that is awarded to high school seniors each year who have excelled in academics, athletics and/or the arts during their high school years. If won, she plans to use this support to help pay for “room and board” at college.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic are low-income minority families, and many of the students who have received sponsorships from ABFK are part of this demographic. Heads of households have a hard time trying to steadily earn money to support their family, which raises concerns for these students.
Miguel Tolentino, Class of 2022 knows this all too well, “The pandemic had a negative impact [on my family] financially, currently I am being forced to move homes and my parents are working 2-3 jobs each. I will [have to apply for a] job for the summer because I am worried that my family won’t make enough money to sustain us.”
Fortunately for Miguel, he is able to use his sponsorship to purchase a laptop to assist in his virtual learning and soccer cleats to pursue his athletic aspirations. Keeping busy through physical activity, such as playing soccer, was mentioned by many of our students as a way they attempted to reduce the inevitable stress that came with the pandemic.
“I had applied for a summer program at Brown University and was ecstatic when I got the news that I had gotten accepted to take a college class at Brown. Unfortunately for me, a quarantine was enacted at the school because of a virus called Covid-19. Months had passed when I got an email from Brown University saying that I would be unable to attend the summer program because of the current state of the pandemic,” recalled Kebron Russum, Class of 22.
Recently, ABFK has shared that they are tentatively offering an East Coast College Trip Tour that high school students affiliated with A Bridge for Kids will be able to attend. This organization has visited some of the most prestigious universities on the East Coast including Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, etc. For students, like Kebron, who were deprived of the opportunity to visit colleges last year because of the pandemic, this tour will provide them with exposure to college campuses and allow them to visit colleges they have only been able to dream of to this point in their lives.
A Bridge for Kids has also offered support addressing issues that students have been struggling with, “I remember at the start of the pandemic ABFK had fun contests in which we could participate to win gift cards to help our families. Additionally, I have continued to receive financial support for my academics, athletics, and artistic activities. Also, I can’t thank my ABFK mentor enough for everything that she has done for me these past three years. She is always there to provide me with advice or listen when I need to talk. It has been so amazing to have her in my life, and I appreciate all that she has done for me,” expresses Meliya Russom.
Students can’t stress enough how important A Bridge for Kids is to them. Being able to have access to these types of resources is helping guide them through their academic career and towards a path of endless success.
“Every day I remember that I have been chosen to be a scholar under A Bridge for Kids, and that gives me motivation because I have what it takes to be a good student. I have been through so much already and this pandemic won’t stop me,” Miguel Tolentino.
And it won’t stop A Bridge for Kids and our supporters either. Well said, Miguel!