$100K in matching funds from the Stony Brook Foundation will support at-risk students impacted by the COVID-19 crisis
When Destinee ’20 visited campus for an admitted student tour, she knew she had found the home and the life she’d always wanted.
“Even though my early life was a tragic one, I knew I still needed to pursue a better life,” said Destinee.
|Seawolves Helping Seawolves Week 4/29 to 5/5
#1: Give whatever you can to help Stony Brook students affected by this crisis.#2: Post a video using the hashtag #SBUTogether to encourage struggling students to finish their semester successfully.#3: Share this crowdfunding link with your family and friends.
At Stony Brook, she had a safe place to sleep and study, regular meals, even an on-campus job. She felt secure and accepted by an inclusive community of friends and caring adults who encouraged her ambitions to be the first one in her family to earn a college degree, the first one to interrupt their cycle of grinding poverty.
Then the Coronavirus pandemic hit.
And as life altering as it’s been for so many, it has hit Stony Brook’s students from low-income backgrounds harder than most. “A large number of Stony Brook’s students — undergraduate, graduate and professional — come from socioeconomic backgrounds most at-risk during this time,” said Interim President Michael A. Bernstein.
Scores of students are suddenly jobless. Some are living with extended families in cramped homes. Many lack essential technology resources, preventing them from accessing online classes. The psychological impact of these struggles is immense and potentially debilitating.”
Today, Destinee lives with her aunt in upstate New York, who agreed to give her temporary shelter. But with no income, Destinee doesn’t have the money to buy food. Her aunt, also struggling financially, can only help so much.
Still, like so many students who overcome the odds and make it to Stony Brook, this challenge has only strengthened Destinee’s determination to complete her degree.
“Someone told me once that your education is the only thing that nobody can take away from you,” said Destinee. “It’s something that won’t die or disappoint you. It’s something I’m doing for myself that will always be mine.”
Destinee’s route back to Stony Brook will be rocky, and she can’t do it alone. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to, thanks to donors to the Emergency Student Support crowdfunding project.
Since April 2, more than 350 alumni, faculty, staff and friends have already donated more than $82,000. But much more is needed to support the untold number of students compromised by the crisis. Now, the Stony Brook Foundation is matching every gift for Emergency Student Support, dollar for dollar up to $100,000.
“The Stony Brook Foundation is dedicated and devoted to the University now more than ever,” said Stony Brook Foundation Chair Richard Gelfond ’76. “The matching funds is something we can do immediately to demonstrate our unwavering support to this wonderful institution by investing in our students.”
Though she’s miles and miles from campus today, Destinee feels closer than ever to her Stony Brook home.
It’s amazing that people who are going through their own hard times,” said Destinee, “people who could be looking only to help their own family and friends…they still see me, and they are still willing to help me be successful. I’m really thankful for that.”