ASU geological sciences student succeeds remotely during pandemic, with help from donors


School of Earth and Space Exploration geological sciences major Paityn Schlosser. Photo courtesy Paityn Schlosser

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Paityn Schlosser, a geological sciences major at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration, was on spring break in Utah last March when ASU implemented plans to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Students were asked to leave campus and finish the semester virtually. As an out-of-state student, Schlosser had two choices, return home to Missouri or move in with a friend. She chose the latter.  

“This decision also meant leaving my job as a desk assistant in my dorm,” she said. “I was left scrambling to find another job in Tempe, just as most of the city was shutting down.” 

Schlosser went from going to classes on campus and studying in the library to attending lectures from her bedroom. When the Wi-Fi went out, she’d complete assignments on her laptop by tethering to her cell phone’s connection. 

“You don’t appreciate the convenience of in-person studies until it’s no longer an option,” Schlosser said.  

Like Schlosser, many students found themselves upended by the pandemic: classes moved to an online format, plus the loss of income from jobs suddenly gone.

In response, the School of Earth and Space Exploration looked for ways to support students facing urgent needs and created the Student Emergency Fund. Since the school initiated it in spring 2020, more than 40 donors have made a gift to the fund, supporting students who needed help with essential needs like food, shelter and health care. 

“There are many things you plan for as a student, but a pandemic shouldn’t be one of them,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “This is a reminder that we are stronger together, and we are committed to supporting our students through this challenging time.” 

The lockdown from the pandemic also added financial stress to Schlosser with worries of student loans and insurance payments. Initially, she didn’t consider the Student Emergency Fund, thinking someone else would need it more than she would. It didn’t occur to her at first that she could be that “someone.”

Financial assistance from the school’s Student Emergency Fund allowed Schlosser to focus on her health, safety, and ultimately her studies and her future. She says she is thankful for the support and the opportunity to return for her sophomore year at ASU.  

“I’d like to thank the donors who helped me and my fellow Sun Devils through a difficult time, and without their generosity I believe my current situation would be a much different story,” Scholsser said. “Without their support, I may not have been able to continue my studies and attend ASU.” 

Learn more about the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration Student Emergency Fund.

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