The Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust, founded by Professor Emeritus Dr. Kay Nasser (pictured here with students) and Dora Nasser, has been providing support for students in crisis for years, but has become even more relevant and needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

USask unites: COVID-19 brings alumni and friends together to support students in crisis

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors and a $100K matching donation by Dr. Kay and Dora Nasser, over 160 students in crisis were granted emergency financial support in the past month.

Extraordinary circumstances have brought out extraordinary responses from members of our USask community. From frontline health-care workers to researchers looking for a solution to this global health threat, there are so many stories about people are working to make our home communities safer and healthy. Here are a few of the inspiring stories of our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Most students have enough to focus on in the last months of any school yearbetween finishing classes and assignments, looking for summer work opportunities, and planning for their final exam study schedule. But the spring of 2020 will be a memorable one for students as they have been faced with unexpected and increased pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 is challenging our students in extraordinary ways,” said President Peter Stoicheff in his General Academic Assembly Address on April 13, applauding the flexibility they’ve needed to adapt to remote learning, and the many changes in both their academic world and home life in a short period of time. “It's essential we all remember that students remain our top priority at this time.”

Many students, who rely on part-time jobs, found themselves without paycheques this past month as non-essential businesses closed their doors. As a result, the University of Saskatchewan Student Central team reported a rapid increase in the number of students applying for emergency funding—from one student per week to 65 in the last two weeks of March alone. Many of these students applied to help them afford basic living needs like food and shelter.

And while University of Saskatchewan graduates are also facing enormous pressures and uncertainty themselves through the face of this crisis, they generously responded to President Stoicheff’s urgent call for student support. 717 donors gave to support the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust in the last month to assist these students in need.

One of the students who received emergency funding said, “My children and I appreciate it so much. Being a single parent, home schooling two kids and myself is tough. It will help us in so many ways.”

Thanks to this overwhelming support, $288,100 was raised in a few short weeks, and over 160 students were granted emergency funding to assist them in navigating this stressful and uncertain time.

As part of this total, Professor Emeritus Dr. Kay and Mrs. Dora Nasser contributed an incredible $100,000 towards the urgent initiative to support students in crisis.

The couple initiated the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust to help students quickly in a wide variety of crisis situations, with no repayment required. Since it was created in 2013, the fund has helped students financially deal with issues like relocating after family break-ups, affording flights home for funerals, treating medical emergencies and managing an unexpected loss of employment.

This year, the fund is even more relevant and meaningful to students, as it has helped students return home to their families, purchase equipment to study remotely and cover the most essential living expenses like groceries and rent. It also helps ensure that students can finish their studies this year, rather than deferring their educational goals.

Thank you to all donors and alumni who have made this critical support for students possible.

If you would like to make a gift to the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust, and support students in crisis, visit donate.usask.ca/crisis. If you know a student who is need of financial help, please have them email Student Central to start a crisis aid application.

Share your stories with us: We are collecting the stories of resilience and good spirit from our USask community. Please send story ideas and photos to news@usask.ca.

As a community it is critical that we support each other and remain respectful during what is a difficult time for all of us. Please follow all guidelines and take all precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.

How you can help our students during the COVID-19 pandemic: alumni.usask.ca/news/2020/covid-19-how-you-can-help-our-students.php

For the latest developments and information about the University of Saskatchewan's response to COVID-19, please go to usask.ca/updates.

The University of Saskatchewan is undertaking critical research and contributing to global efforts to combat COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac) is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases. Your support of the COVID-19 Research Fund supports the increased efforts of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Donate now.

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