Erika comforts her cat, Lucy
FIGHTING TO COMPLETE
Due to financial strain, Erika has dropped out of college twice, re-enrolling when able.
“ALL OF THE ECONOMIC EFFECTS STARTED TO PILE UP.
I STARTED TO GET FRANTIC. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO IF I CAN'T GRADUATE?”
FINISH LINE IN SIGHT
Erika has only one semester left to complete. She plans to start a business or non-profit after graduation.
Erika with her sister and father at a Utah Utes football game
Erika's notebook, where she writes down her non-profit and business ideas
THEN COVID-19 HIT.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS OUT OF REACH
Erika realized she was most likely going to have to abandon her dream of graduating.
Erika struggles to grapple with her worth and identity if she is unable to graduate.
She promised herself that she would not have to wait tables again, but…
Erika's serving apron, which she wore waiting tables for seven years
“TODAY, HIGHER EDUCATION IS A GATEKEEPER THAT STANDS BETWEEN THE POPULACE AND A PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS.
THIS DEGREE WILL PROVE THAT I HAVE WORTH.”
ERIKA IS NOT AN OUTLIER
SEE THE DATA
Self-portraits drawn by Erika representing the highs and lows of the pandemic
ANOTHER SCHOOL LOAN
Through a change in her student loans, Erika was, fortunately, able to continue her classes this semester, and is on track to graduate this winter. The months Erika spent in uncertainty and anxiety weren’t an isolated case.
Students across the nation are experiencing immediate financial burdens brought on or heightened by the current pandemic, threatening their ability to continue their education.
“THERE'S A FEELING OF UNCERTAINTY BUT ALSO OF HEARTBREAKING RESENTMENT.”
Erika takes online courses this semester, but she still worries about what will happen this fall semester, and about starting her career after she graduates.
Erika holds her cat, Gus
TO BE CONTINUED
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OVERDUE CHANGE
The higher education sector faces a crucial set of decisions that will shape its future for decades to come. While the current pandemic has amplified the strain on an already-vulnerable higher education sector, institutions have the opportunity to transform in proactive and student-centric ways.