With classes being delivered remotely, the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Campaign for Students: Here today, tomorrow the world, raises money to help students in all programs through scholarships and bursaries; provide financial assistance to those experiencing crisis situations; and offer mental health support during these challenging times.
Kaitlyn Benko, a fourth-year student in the College of Kinesiology, is one of the many students who has received a scholarship through the Campaign for Students and been impacted by the global pandemic.
“I still remember the day that USask announced the closure of campus,” Benko said. “I was checking PAWS at home and saw the headline that classes were moving to an online format. I remember thinking that this would definitely be an adjustment but that the university ultimately made the best decision to protect everyone.”
For many students, learning online is a new environment that they have never experienced before. Benko is no exception to this shift.
“I definitely feel like I learn the best in an in-class environment, so it will be an adjustment for me to try and create the same immersive learning environment for my online classes from home,” she said.
Students navigating their own remote study space often suffer from additional stress when they are far away from their peers and family members. Learning while isolated is a barrier for many in their journey to performing well in classes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Recently, there has been an upsurge of international students requiring assistance from USask’s mental health services, due to isolated living conditions.
On top of transitioning to online learning, students also have to cope with financial stress. During the same time the campus had closed, the skating rink where Benko works also shut down to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I couldn’t do my job for a couple of months and that was a big stressor in my life,” she said.
Several USask students suddenly lost their source of income due to the pandemic. As a result, basic needs like rent and groceries have become more challenging to afford. On top of living expenses, other students are struggling to access tools for online learning such as laptops, internet connection and textbooks.
Despite these challenges, students like Benko continue to work towards their goals that were established before the pandemic.
“Going into university, I knew I wanted to be on the Dean’s Honour Roll for all four years of my undergrad degree, so I’ve always tried to be attentive in my classes and stay on top of my course work to achieve this. This school year may look different, but I plan on being just as diligent with my studies. I will continue to persevere and set myself up for success as I aspire to reach my future goal of becoming a chiropractor,” she noted.
However, thanks to the Campaign for Students, more support is available to help students achieve their goals. Donations to the campaign makes a real difference in students’ lives during these challenging times. Any amount of gift, big or small, increases their confidence in fulfilling their dreams.
“Some of the biggest supports that students will need as we continue to learn through an online platform will involve financial, mental health, social, and overall wellness supports. There will likely be unique stressors arising with online learning amidst a pandemic, so it is important that students’ well-being as a whole is addressed and prioritized to help them best succeed in and out of school,” Benko explained.
She also commented that the impact of receiving financial awards and aid can also extend beyond each student.
“Receiving a scholarship has motivated me to continue striving for excellence in my academics and to be the best role model I can be for my siblings,” Benko said. “My younger brother, who is entering high school this year, says that he has set a goal to work hard in school and receive the same scholarship that I did. This goes to show that donations to students has the potential to support not only the recipient, but also uplift and motivate others around that individual.”
For more information about Campaign for Students, or to make a donation to help students achieve their goals while learning from home, please visit give.usask.ca/students.