Impact Profile, Antwaun N., ’19

Antwaun N., ‘19, is a first-year graduate student at Kent State University. After earning his undergraduate degree in public health, he decided he wanted to continue his education in that field with a focus on epidemiology, the study of infectious diseases.

He was working as a graduate assistant in the College of Public Health and assisting with research at a lab in Cleveland. However, when the pandemic hit, Antwaun said any research positions for students and interns essentially became “frozen,” and he lost that second source of income from his job in Cleveland.

Antwaun said he is grateful to still be paid for the campus position, but he was already on a fixed income before COVID-19. As bills began to pile up for rent, car insurance and other necessities, Antwaun felt the strain of losing his second job. And while some landlords have been extending grace periods during this time, that was not the case for him.

“I had pretty much exhausted my savings account, and I was being threatened with an eviction notice.”

Antwaun tried to find another job, but because of the pandemic, many businesses were not able to take on new employees. Then he came across the Kent State Emergency Grant Fund.

“When I saw this emergency fund, I was like ‘yes!’ I was really feeling the Flash love,” he said. “This current help has been very important to me and helped see me through.”

But he knows there are many others who are facing financial hardships as well.

“The best time to give is now. This pandemic is affecting a lot of people, and a lot of students weren’t able to get the stimulus check,” Antwaun said.

“If you have the means to make a gift, you could help someone get food or pay their rent. You never know what other people are going through.”

While it has caused him some financial challenges, Antwaun said the COVID-19 pandemic has made him even more excited about his career in public health. In this field, he said there are many opportunities to make a difference for others through new policies and procedures that could keep communities safe and healthy.

“COVID-19 exposed the general knowledge of the public and how we as public health officials need to respond. It has shown us that we need to have proper funding so that each health department has effective systems in place to surveil emerging infectious diseases.”

In the meantime, he has been volunteering to assist at local food shelters, where he brings pamphlets with general information about how individuals can practice safety and protect themselves. He’s also been inspired by the way fellow students have come together while apart. He said he has seen different group chats develop organically and people reaching out to check on each other. It’s been a source of reassurance during a strange and difficult time. “I consider myself to be a Flash and this university to be my home.”

To help more students like Antwaun, visit the website and make a secure online gift to the Kent State Emergency Grant Fund.

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