Pin Up ile eğlenceye atılın! Kazanmanın keyfini çıkarın ve heyecanı doruklarda yaşayın.

Class of 1966 Emergency Fund provides essential support for students during the COVID-19 pandemic

In 2016, as members of the U-M School of Nursing’s Class of 1966 were planning their 50th reunion, they were also building an endowed fund that could support Michigan nursing students for decades to come. Four years later, the Class of 1966 Student Emergency Fund has become an important source of financial support for students struggling to navigate the myriad challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The School of Nursing has a well-established 50th reunion program which takes place every fall,” explained the School of Nursing’s Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations Colleen Zimmerman. “The Class of 1952 was the first to establish a fund in their name, and almost every class thereafter has established a fund of some sort.”

A core group of alumni organized the Class of 1966 reunion and spearheaded the effort to develop an emergency fund: Linda Houk Cronenwett, Carol Merriam Williams, Sally VanCampen Enderle, Peggy Kuebler Field, Barbara Wild Hensinger, Terri Drell Schwartz, Bobbi Holub Timberlake and Jane Bodine Williams. Many members of the class contributed to the fund during their reunion year and have continued to make gifts on an annual basis. 

“After generating a list of ideas, we decided to focus on something that could help all levels of students,” said Cronenwett. “We wanted to create an endowed fund so that our gifts could be a reliable source of funding for students well into the future.”

Cronenwett, who is dean and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, knew firsthand how helpful this particular form of financial support could be.

“Students struggle to make ends meet when their lives are stable, and unexpected expenses can make it impossible to finish a semester,” she said. “We used a similar fund at UNC-Chapel Hill all the time.”

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces students to adapt to unprecedented circumstances, the Class of ’66 Emergency Fund has helped provide some relief.

“We never could have envisioned the types of emergencies these students are facing today,” said Cronenwett.

Patel headshotIn addition to disruptions in their personal lives, the COVID-19 outbreak has upended courses, campus life and clinical experiences for nursing students in Ann Arbor. The U-M School of Nursing’s Chief Inclusion Officer Rushika Patel has been working tirelessly to help students find the support they need, including assistance from the Class of ’66 Emergency Fund.

“This situation has raised a number of concerns for students, including new financial responsibilities they have to meet on their own,” said Patel.

Needs vary for each student. Those who depend on income from their jobs in the service sector have lost their paychecks, making it impossible to afford groceries, transportation and other essential expenses. In some cases, nursing faculty and staff, including Patel, have come together to deliver groceries, homemade meals and prescription medications.

Weeks ago, U-M President Mark Schlissel encouraged students to leave campus and return to their primary residences. While many went home to isolate with their families, others were left with limited options, especially those who live out of state.

“The challenges are wide-ranging,” Patel explained. “Parents have lost jobs and can’t support students at the level they used to. As summer approaches, students who depend on subletting their off-campus housing have nowhere to turn. Some students have family thousands of miles away, and in some cases staying here is ultimately safer than going home.”

Class of ‘66 emergency funding can provide essential assistance to a number of students, from those who can no longer afford groceries to others who can’t access the technology they need to complete their coursework remotely. The fund can cover short-term, unanticipated expenses, but Patel acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic will present challenges well into the future.

“I think we’re going to see an increasing number of students who need this kind of help,” she said. “As we anticipate more job losses and more difficulty accessing the things our students need to get back to school in the fall, what is that going to look like? Over the next year, the range of needs that result from this situation are going to grow, and we have to meet them.”

Zimmerman headshotThere are other resources to support students before they have to apply for emergency assistance, but those who need help can’t be afraid to ask. It may seem like a simple step, but for nursing students, who are trained to handle complex problems without hesitation, it’s not always easy.

“It’s an amazing mentality and one reason why our students are so successful in this rigorous program,” said Patel. “But we want to make sure our students know they can be vulnerable with us. We will hold their stories and struggles in confidence, and we’re going to do whatever we can to support them.”

If you are a U-M School of Nursing student who needs help, or if you know a student who needs help, please contact Rushika Patel at 734-647-0143 or rushika@umich.edu.

As this global health crisis evolves, there are opportunities to help U-M’s aspiring nurses and members of the School of Nursing community who are on the front lines. Zimmerman explained that making a gift to the Class of 1966 Emergency Fund or U-M School of Nursing General Fund provides needed support to address the challenges that lie ahead.

“For many years, patients and families have wondered how they can help nurses. Now is a time when we can support them financially,” Zimmerman said. “Through the Emergency Fund and General Fund, we can support the next generation of nurses and those who are in the fight for our world’s health right now.”

For more information about making a gift to the Class of 1966 Emergency Fund and other opportunities to support the U-M School of Nursing, visit https://leadersandbest.umich.edu.