Editor's Note: This ongoing thrive series looks at how students on college campuses are innovating, overcoming challenges and living healthy lives.
ONTARIO — Although COVID-19 has caused financial issues for many people in Ohio, students in the area are actively finding ways to overcome these challenges.
Yahoska Acosta, a senior social work major and psychology minor at OSU Mansfield, moved to America from Nicaragua ten years ago. She expressed how much it broke her heart to know how many people’s daily lives have been affected due to COVID-19.
“Although here in the U.S. we have so many resources available to us like the stimulus check, food banks, unemployment benefits, food stamps and others, I know that there are a lot of people struggling not only to survive the pandemic, but also struggling to survive the many hardships that follow it,” Acosta said.
Acosta grew up in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, before moving to America in 2010 and then receiving her citizenship in October 2018.
Her family now lives in Willard and have faced their own obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of my parents became unemployed,” Acosta said. “It also disrupted many aspects of my life, including the fact that I could not finish my social work field placement and I was unable to follow through with some of the clients I was working with.”
Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Richland County on March 14, more than 10,000 individuals in the county have become newly unemployed, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS).
Unlike her parents though, Acosta has seen an increase in her work hours. She works at a local factory in Willard, Flex Pack, which produces food and has been deemed essential.
“I have been working a lot and picking up extra shifts, so I don’t really have a lot of free time especially since I still have to deal with all of my school work,” she said.
Acosta said her father was denied unemployment due to the extreme load of cases the ODJFS has received during this time.
“Since I am still working, I have been helping out, but that could definitely change especially if the quarantine continues for much longer,” Acosta said.
In the month of March alone, 1,188 college-aged students (16 to 24 years old) from Richland County made initial unemployment claims according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Huron County had a much lower rate, with only 600 young adults filing for unemployment.
President of The Ohio State University, Michael Drake, announced a new emergency grant program called Together As Buckeyes.
Drake said “this program will assist students who are having difficulty with living expenses or facing other unexpected financial challenges related to the disruption of campus operations due to this pandemic.”
Any OSU undergraduate, graduate or professional student, who has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply by completing the Emergency Request form.
Although Acosta said that her family needed to learn to live within a tighter budget, they remain positive.
“We are fortunate to have a little bit of savings, and as of right now, we have not experienced extreme financial hardship,” Acosta said.
During quarantine, she said she and her siblings have enjoyed cooking fresh meals together and occasionally playing monopoly.
Acosta said college students should focus on doing what they enjoy during quarantine, but also focus on school work, even though they may have little motivation.
She said, “it is important to remember that although this is an unfortunate situation, we are all learning very important skills through all of this, such as being more flexible, fast-learners and being able to thrive during difficult circumstances.”
Read more stories from our "Thriving on Campus" series below: