Senior Spotlight: The Trustee Scholarship doesn’t cover all expenses 

By Kaitlyn Seawood

I’VE faced numerous challenges throughout my life, but nothing would compare to the turmoil I faced in 2020. After losing my grandmother, my mother figure in life in March 2020,I didn’t think things could get much worse, but I was wrong.

Shortly after, my father passed away from lung and liver cancer just three days after my birthday on May 19, 2020. My siblings had already moved out and I was left with the overwhelming responsibility of supporting myself independently.

For the past three years, I had to mature and grow up rather quickly, working full time, paying my own bills and moving several times until I settled into a mobile home with my boyfriend. Through all the hurdles, I realized how short life is. I wanted to make my grandmother and dad proud and decided to go back to school a year after graduating high school in 2019.

In fall 2020, I applied, enrolled and registered for classes part time at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania while still working full time. Over the course of two and a half years, I saw myself grow into a person I had never imagined. I became president of my Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Beta Beta Chi, an honor society for two-year colleges, secretary for my campus’ women’s club and student governance and subsequently rose to editor-in-chief for the student newspaper, The Commuter. I graduated this past May with a 3.7 GPA and was honorably awarded the Transfer Trustee Scholarship at Rider.

Now, as the end of my first semester is quickly approaching, I have learned and gained insight on so many things I wasn’t aware of prior to becoming a full- time student. Firstly, I do not ignore the privilege it is to be a trustee. Only three transfer students are awarded this prestigious scholarship each year and I am very fortunate to have been chosen as one. But nonetheless, I still face financial barriers.

Prior to this semester, I was aware that the Trustee Scholarship does not cover housing, and the scholarship overrides all other scholarships awarded by the school. This meant that I would not be able to utilize the $3,000 Campus Connection Grant, nor the monetary award for being accepted into the Gail Bierenbaum Women’s Leadership Council. I knew I couldn’t take out loans or afford to live on campus with my current financial state. I decided to move in with a friend in Bucks County Pennsylvania, where I now commute approximately two hours each day.

This commute not only takes a financial toll for gas and car maintenance, but also takes a tremendous mental toll. As a trustee, I am required to take a minimum of 15 credits per semester and must maintain a 3.5 GPA. To say the least, this is a huge difference than what I was used to at community college. This semester I have classes Monday through Friday while working two work-study jobs, sometimes staying on campus until 10 p.m. and occasionally coming in on Saturdays. Some nights, I don’t get home until 1 a.m. This means I get maybe four or five hours of sleep since I have to wake up at 6 a.m. to ensure I make it on time for my 9 a.m. classes.

Not only would living on campus increase the convenience of everyday life, but it would also remove the weight of worrying about sleep, studying and ensuring that I am performing my best academically. I highly encourage Rider to consider the impact of expanding the Trustee Scholarship and the effect that it would have on students.

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