AUTHOR: Leanne Lenz
AGENCY: Penn State Student Care and Advocacy
Jordan, a first-generation college student, is dedicated to improving their own life and those of their family by completing their education and making an impact in the world. Jordan is smart, resourceful and willing to put the hard work in to succeed. Their family is not able to support them financially, so Jordan works full time in the summer and 20 hours/week during the school year to pay for food and rent while the scholarships they received - based on excellent academic performance - cover tuition. Early this fall, Jordan’s mother fled from an abusive relationship and unexpectedly needed to borrow two thousand dollars from them. It’s unlikely that the money will be paid back any time soon. Jordan is now out of money, out of food, and has an eviction notice from the landlord on their front door. Everything Jordan worked so hard to achieve is now in jeopardy.
Those of us who live and work here in Happy Valley can easily assume that Penn State students are privileged. We’re surrounded by luxury student housing and frequently see students driving around in high-end vehicles. The students who are struggling may not be as flashy and visible, but there are many. A fall 2021 survey showed that 24% of Penn State students struggle with food insecurity and 17% struggle with housing insecurity. Penn State’s Student Care and Advocacy Office is here to help.
Penn State students who are struggling with basic needs insecurity such as a lack of food, housing, or medical care, are encouraged to seek support from Student Care and Advocacy (SCA). Penn State resources are abundant, but it can be an incredible challenge to navigate those resources, especially during a time of crisis. Any student who reaches out to SCA is offered an opportunity to speak one on one with a caring, knowledgeable case manager who is well-suited to help the student navigate resources available on campus and in the surrounding State College community.
When Jordan first came to us, they felt scared, embarrassed, and alone. By working closely with their case manager, Jordan qualified for the Centre County Emergency Rental Assistance Program and received emergency on campus dining dollars funded by the Swipe Out Hunger Program. They also accessed grocery items from the Penn State Lion’s Pantry and connected with the Sokolov-Miller Financial and Life Skills Center to learn how to prepare for financial success in the future. This kind of support was completely lifechanging for Jordan. They are now feeling healthier, more focused, and excited about their bright future.
Students in need of support can contact Student Care and Advocacy by phone (814-863-2020), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by completing a Basic Needs Request Form online at https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/studentcare.