Troublesome pandemic

Past, present struggles of SPU students due to COVID-19

Hailey Echan, Features Editor

Once 2020 is recorded in history books, students of future generations will learn of the tragedies and events that took place during this time. Looking back, everyone will have significant memories of how they were affected.

Some might remember the toilet paper shortage, others might recall how their eyes were opened to the systemic racism that has occured throughout our country’s history. This year might be marked by the inability to host a wedding reception on their special day, or for some it might be marked by the death of a family member or sudden drop in financial resources.

Out of the many events to occur this year there is no telling which has been the most tragic for each individual, but one thing is for certain: COVID-19 has affected hundreds of thousands of lives, including those at Seattle Pacific University. 

In the summer of 2020, Elizabeth Cortes and her family all contracted this infamous disease.

“It started with one person and almost immediately we all got it at the same time,” sophomore nursing major Cortes said over Zoom.

The Cortes family was able to quarantine all together since they all contracted it at the same time, but that didn’t make it any less painful.

Elizabeth Cortes and her family all contracted COVID-19 over the summer.
(Elizabeth Cortes)

“What I believe to be the first day was probably the worst for me. I had fevers and body aches, a really bad headache and a runny nose. After, all I had was a bad cough and had lost my sense of smell,” Cortes said. “I couldn’t get out of bed.”

Although the family had all physically been affected by COVID, the consequences expanded beyond the family’s health.

Due to regulations and new guidelines put in place towards the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown, the borders between the United States and Mexico had shut down. This threw a wrench in the Cortes’ family plans.

“We usually go to Mexico every year. Most of our family is over there…now our only communication is through technology,” Cortes said.

Physical health and family relationships are not the only problems that have surfaced due to COVID-19. The financial strain being placed on homes across the globe continues to grow, especially for junior psychology major, Mika Govender.

“I’ve been worried and struggling to get the money for rent, groceries, and tuition,” Govender said over Zoom.

Originally from South Africa, Mika’s family has had the responsibility over the last 8 months of recovering from the financial downturn that came as a result from COVID. 

“My dad is the CEO of his own company, an import/export company,” Govender said. “Before COVID hit [his company] wasn’t really doing that well. But then COVID hit and it all plummeted.”  

In this instance, money is not just a luxury, it is a necessity.

“My dad has five mouths to feed. We are a big family. I am studying here, my brother is currently in Spain,” Govender said.

Having money to provide food and shelter for the family along with academic tuition are not the only worries for Govender.

While she is residing here for school, her mom has the burden of worrying about whether or not the rest of her family can stay at their place in Morocco.

“I’m South African, but we live in Morocco now, so we have a residency card there. You have to have income coming into the country in order to stay there,” Govender said. “My mom has been crying out to God, ‘what are we supposed to do?’ She’s worried about having to go back to South Africa.”

Mika Govender and her family have been deeply impacted by COVID-19, with the family business taking a hit and tuition still a significant expense. (Mika Govender)

Govender has always been cautious about money, but it was not until this year that it affected her mental state.

“I just always worry about it when I spend any money. I have all these expenses and I am basically on my own. I find myself always thinking about money which I don’t want because ‘money is not evil it is the love of money that is evil’ like that is what it says in the Bible,” Govender says.

By reaching out to friends and family over social media, Govender was able to start a GoFundMe and raise funds for her education.

Titled ‘Help Me Complete My Studies’, Govender’s fundraiser has raised nearly $10,000 out of the $39,234 needed for tuition at SPU.

“I was able to pay off what I owed from last year which allowed me to register for classes this quarter…I still don’t have the money for this year so I don’t know how that is going to work out yet,” Govender said.

Although COVID has brought about many unforeseen tragedies and events, Govender still finds herself thankful for the community that SPU has provided her with.

“People who I haven’t even met have donated and I just feel so thankful. And I just want to give praise to SPU because they really really have helped me,” Govender said.