Reflections from the Class of 2020

By:
Tim Kosaka

In one way or another, coronavirus COVID-19 changed the way of life for everyone this spring. While Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) was obligated to make many adjustments, the focus of caring for individual students never ceased! 
From personally checking in with every student by phone to creatively implementing virtual worship and campus life programming, SWAU kept students connected, engaged and prayed over. Through refunding housing and dining fees, continuing to pay student workers who were no longer able to work on campus and launching a relief fund to benefit students in need, the university helped ease the financial burdens of students and their families. 
For Evelyn Alanis, a senior nursing major who dreams of becoming an ER nurse, the pandemic kept her local as she completed her externship at a nearby hospital. She admits that virtual learning was tough, but video conferencing became her best friend and kept her connected with professors, friends and family. “This pandemic was such a curve ball for everybody,” she shares, “but through it all, the faculty and staff at SWAU remained positive. This displayed courage to me!”


While Alanis was blessed to have a job at a local hospital, many of her classmates and friends didn’t receive the same opportunity. She recalls how as the pandemic worsened, so many of her friends worried how they would pay for their basic expenses. She shares that SWAU’s decision to refund expenses helped many of her friends make it through the unknown. 


For another senior nursing major, Kyley Hidalgo, COVID-19 also brought unique challenges. As a parent of a three year old, the merging of education and parenting as well as home and school was difficult. For her, the university’s employees made all the difference. “I really appreciated the weekly phone call from different faculty and staff members at SWAU,” she shared. “In a time when I was feeling so defeated and overwhelmed, their calls made me realize that they still cared. They helped me put everything into perspective!”


Prior to the pandemic, Hidalgo worked at the university’s Office of Advancement. Continuing to get paid following spring break, even though she could no longer work due to the virus, showed her “how much SWAU thinks and cares about its students!” 


As a recipient of the university’s Fighting Food for Hunger and Insecurity Fund, Hidalgo appreciates how this initiative eased her financial load and provided the security she needed to focus on studies. “While bills never stop, God never leaves his children helpless. My family and I are very grateful for all the opportunities that SWAU afforded us this spring.”


For Semu Siologa, Jr., a senior theology student who thrives with face-to-face interactions, finishing his degree from his apartment and away from his friends and classmates was tough, but he made it through his classes, and through the process experienced the love of his professors in a new way. 


Semu shares that he graduated feeling proud of the decisions that SWAU made during this difficult time. “SWAU's virtual worship services and devotionals provided great encouragement to me,” he shared. “Our professors supported us academically and personally. Administration’s decision to refund housing and dining fees and financially support students was a testament of how great SWAU is.”


“I am proud to be a new alumnus of an institution that backs up their words with action and cares for each student even during the most difficult time,” Siologa says. “I look forward to positively representing Southwestern Adventist University as I make an impact in this world!”
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