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When Adella Robinson was forced to make a career change for health reasons at age 55, she didn’t realize the current job market would be so difficult to navigate. “I realized I need my bachelor’s degree to move forward,” Robinson said. “I have my associate degree, but it hasn’t really been getting me any interviews.”
To speed up her graduation, Robinson took on a five-course load in Spring 2019. Unfortunately, this exhausted Robinson’s student loans while she was still between jobs. In need of help, Robinson turned to Northeastern’s Student Emergency Fund and within a week, she had a check to help pay her monthly rent bill. “If it had not been for that emergency fund of $500, I probably would have a five-day notice,” said Robinson, an Interdisciplinary Studies major. “I don’t even know where I would be today.”
The Student Emergency Fund is an avenue for Northeastern students to seek immediate assistance during financial emergencies such as housing insecurities, unexpected medical hardships and job loss that might derail their academic progress, particularly during this current COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The idea of the emergency fund was based on the information we know about our students,” López said. “We have students who have emergencies that come up and it interferes with their school work. Some end up dropping out, and it creates stresses that they don’t really need.”
Robinson, a mother of two, had started working toward a bachelor’s degree years ago, but stopped when her daughter needed help getting through high school. Robinson enrolled in Northeastern in Fall 2018 and is determined to be the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. “When someone’s behind on their rent, which is the most common occurrence, we do make sure that if we do provide this emergency fund, they can get back on track the next month so that we’re not chasing good money for bad, that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for them and a way to continue with staying current,” said Dean of Students Matthew Specht, who reviews the applications. “That’s been pretty successful.”
With the support of the Student Emergency Fund, Robinson was able to pay the majority of her rent, which eased the pressure as she went on job interviews. Shortly thereafter, she was hired by Catholic Charities to be a home care aid. Eventually, Robinson hopes to use her Northeastern degree to either work as a resource coordinator with a nonprofit or start her own organization to help children and the elderly understand what avenues of assistance are available to them.
As Northeastern helps students navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic, students may apply online for aid for any emergency needs, with some exclusions such as tuition and health insurance. The fund can also help cover a medical bill.
English major Madeleine K., who suffers from a chronic autoimmune disease that causes her to be more susceptible to other illnesses, contracted influenza last year and went to an urgent care center. Six months after her visit, Madeleine discovered that insurance did not cover all of the charges, and she still owed nearly $375 that she could not afford to pay. Madeleine applied for help through the Student Emergency Fund and quickly was granted the money she needed to stay in school and keep the bill from going to collections.
“I needed to pay that off because if I hadn’t, I would probably not be able to go to school,” she said. “I would need to work, and I was still feeling sick due to my autoimmune disease.”
Your gifts to the Student Emergency Fund and the NEIU Foundation make a significant impact on our students' lives. Your gift can make a difference.