Two Rising Seniors Help Mitigate Educational Disparities During COVID-19

August 19, 2020

Lana’s Bio:
Lana Nguyen is a rising senior at a local Bay Area high school. Lana is passionate about creating change in low-income communities and seeks ways to represent their voices. She prides herself in better understanding her community by taking on leadership roles that focuses on underserved areas. She aims to improve the healthcare system by bringing awareness about various health topics and resources that support underprivileged communities. Lana hopes to attend a university that encourages academic curiosity and collaboration among a diverse group of people.

Susanna’s Bio:
Susanna is a rising high school senior from the Bay Area. She is committed to helping her community by volunteering and providing resources for success to others. Her favorite topics include health, biodiversity, and living systems. Susanna plans to explore her options in health and medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano, helping animals at her local shelter, and spending time with her friends.

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(Left to right: Susanna Lau + Lana Nguyen)

Lana Nguyen (Co-Founder):
Going to back to school fairs always excited me for the upcoming school year as different backpack designs and colors filled the gymnasium floor. There were countless options and simply choosing ONE backpack seemed like such an obstacle as my 12-year-old self thought that it would determine the “mood” for the whole year. However, as I grew older, I could no longer attend these fairs because I either passed the age limit or it was just too far to attend.

The feeling of excitement for the beginning of school turned into wonders of worries. Instead of having the freedom of choosing a brand new backpack from the sea of possibilities, I was limited to a $10 backpack that eventually fell apart halfway through the school year. I could only purchase the bare bones of the supplies such as notebooks, pencils, and erasers and was jealous of those who were able to afford colorful post-its and pens. Luckily, even though I didn’t always have necessary school items at home, my teachers allowed me to borrow supplies and supported me throughout the school year to ensure that I was never falling behind. This helped me feel like I had equal academic opportunities to succeed and was no different than any other student.

However, as schools turn to online learning, these hidden disparities begin to show. Students no longer have the same educational support. This makes it difficult on students because they are expected to complete assignments and fulfill family obligations during a pandemic. In addition, some families may not have a steady income right now, which makes it especially difficult to afford supplies for this upcoming school year.

By starting SupplyHopeInfo (SHI), I hope to bring the same joy I felt during back to school fairs to other students. Besides providing school supplies, SHI aims to build a foundation for students to succeed by connecting them with tutors, distributing laptops, and supporting students through exams with prep books. I hope SHI’s impact will help students do well beyond this academic school year and provide the faith needed in the community during these uncertain times.

Susanna Lau (Co-Founder):
I have always called San Francisco my home. For the longest time, my mother and I made life work in our landlord’s small basement. When I was younger, my mother lost her job and that was my first taste of how fragile stability is for many low-income students. Times became increasingly difficult as we couldn’t afford most things other families and children my age could. At that time, my teacher started to shift from notebooks and paper to digital learning.

We could not afford the devices needed to complete assigned work. I had to become resourceful by using independent time during class to catch up on assignments with school computers.

When SFUSD announced their decision to shift to distance learning during the pandemic, I was reminded of the time my mother was laid-off and how that affected my learning. Only this time, students, who rely on the supplies and technology provided at school, no longer have those resources. Having lived through times when my family wasn’t able to afford school essentials, I knew the value and aid SupplyHopeInfo could provide. SupplyHopeInfo can support my community by easing financial struggles around educational resources.

The vast amount of support we have received shows the power of the community and proves that we are capable of uplifting one another. This strong community has taught me so much and I am so thankful that I live in a place filled with compassionate, supportive individuals!

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