As the effects of the COVID-19 virus spread across the country and social distancing became the catch phrase of the year, higher education institutions were forced to transition from traditional on-campus classes to electronic delivery. This transition, while necessary, created unknown challenges for both faculty and students alike. At Rogers State University, the impact was felt immediately in one of its largest academic programs– nursing.
Students were now required to complete examinations at home. To protect the integrity of the tests, they would need to purchase the services of an online proctoring service, an unplanned expense for many of them.
“We normally give major, high-stakes exams in a very secure and tightly proctored room with two faculty in each room, ensuring that test security is tight,” Dr. Carla Lynch, head of the Department of Health Sciences, said. “There were four more exams to administer for 164 students. We were looking at a cost of more than $100 per student if we required them to purchase the online service for remote exam proctoring.”
The department had already used several thousands of dollars in University funds to purchase virtual clinical software for every nursing student, allowing them to complete the required clinical hours. With funds exhausted, the department needed a hero.They turned to the Rogers State University Foundation for help through its newly created student emergency initiative, the Hillcat Heroes Fund.
“We immediately engaged some of our strongest supporters and they quickly recognized this was a critical need,” RSU President Dr. Larry Rice said. “Everyone has seen television footage or read accounts of nurses on the front lines of this fight, providing aid to patients in the most challenging of conditions. These donors understood the need to support these students, some who within a few months will graduate and be in similar situations serving our communities as nurses.”
Ashley Buff, a senior nursing student from Claremore, said the support from donors helped relieve the stress of moving to online courses.
“Your investment covered what would have been a difficult financial hurdle in achieving the requirements to graduate,” Buff said. “I am thankful for your gift.”
In addition to supporting online proctoring needs for nursing students, the Hillcat Heroes Fund has provided technology grants to more than 40 students who needed assistance transitioning to remote delivery of classes. Students who have lost employment and needed assistance with tuition and fees, housing and other needs, also have been awarded grants.
Anyone interested in supporting students through the RSU Foundation may contact Steve Valencia, vice president for development, at (918) 343-7780 or [email protected].