STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — This week, the Board of Regents at University of the Pacific approved the Pacific COVID-19 Grant.
In times of crisis, the helpers emerge. They are people like Karina Jimenez, who long aspires to become a physician’s assistant. Watching the medical heroes fighting the novel coronavirus has solidified that goal.
“It really made me realize how much I want to be on those front lines and helping people as much as I can,” the UOP junior told FOX40.
Jimenez is not wearing her white lab coat just yet. She still has to finish college.
But that is something that has become a challenge for all new reasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People don’t understand just how much students are struggling right now,” Jimenez said.
Up until March, Jimenez juggled classes with a part-time job at the University Center. But now that campus has closed and courses have moved online, she can no longer work while still having bills to pay.
“It’s been hard trying to navigate all these costs on my own, trying to pay rent because I don’t live at home,” she said. “Going home for me wasn’t really an option this semester because I didn’t have the resources there that I needed to continue online classes.”
To help struggling students like Jimenez, UOP is offering some financial relief.
“Everybody is going through a lot and we know that our students and their families are facing some difficult financial situations right now. And so, it was important to us to be able to address that,” said UOP Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Huber.
The Board of Regents unanimously approved a new grant from the university’s reserve fund this week, making $1,450 available to each student for up to four years and another $400,000 for graduate and professional students.
“We want to be doing everything we can to support a student, encourage them to come back, to enroll and to support them in that process to, ultimately, reach their goal and dream of achieving a degree,” Huber said.
It is a welcomed gesture for students like Jimenez, who will use that money to get one step closer to achieving her dream of helping and caring for others.
“I really do appreciate the concept. I appreciate that the administration and our Board of Regents took the students into consideration,” Jimenez said. “I know it’s a sacrifice that has to be made and to me, I can’t imagine dedicating my life to anything else.”
UOP has also taken a number of steps this semester to help students and their families.
After classes went fully online, the school issued refunds for room and board, meal plans and other expenses, like parking fees.
Students have the option of cashing in on those refunds now or taking a credit for the fall semester. If they choose the latter, the school will be adding an extra $500 as an incentive for returning to school.