On Sept. 29, Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College began distributing laptops to students awarded the Governor’s Emergency Educational Relief grant funding. The nearly $500,000 grant was used to purchase and provide distance learning technology to students in need.
Chrissy Koch, executive director of BSU’s American Indian Resource Center, says the GEER-funded project, Northwoods Equity in Education and Technology for Underserved Students, will address a critical need to provide the technology necessary for underserved students to continue receiving access to educational services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GEER grant awardee Kristy Iceman, of Red Lake, Minn., is studying medical coding and health care administration at NTC. She said converting to online during the spring after the onset of COVID-19 was difficult at first, but she quickly learned how to learn remotely and the computer will help her complete her coursework from home.
“I love NTC,” Iceman said. “Having a laptop to keep with me means that I don’t have to go to campus to finish my work and I can just do it from home.”
Cecilia Rivera-Enge, a junior technical engineering student at Bemidji State from St. Paul, Minn., said having the ability to use her computer to meet with her professors virtually will make a huge difference in her academic experience. For the first few weeks of the fall semester, Rivera-Enge used a computer with no video capability, making her feel disconnected with her professors and classmates.
“I really like BSU, but right now I wish there were more activities and students that I could interact with,” she said. “This computer is going to help me a lot because now I can actually meet my teachers face-to-face.”
- Chrissy Koch, director of the American Indian Resource Center; firstname.lastname@example.org
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