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Online Education isn’t all bad!

What have I earned from this pandemic?

Aman Alchokr


Self-motivation: Online education requires students to assume greater responsibilities, motivating them to develop many skills.

Flexibility: Online education provides those enrolled with flexibility that may increase or decrease depending on the course’s type and nature. It often allows students to tailor their course of study to suit their time and attend lectures and lessons from a place they are comfortable.

Ease of access: Adaptation and access to study materials may sometimes be difficult for some students to join traditional education. Online education allows you to continue studying despite everything, any time, anywhere. Students only need a computer and a good internet connection. Teachers can prepare, modify, and adapt school materials to suit students’ diverse needs.

“It’s not easy! You face a challenge after challenge, but you adapt, and you overcome and after that you grow!

So don’t take that for granted.”

Time and money saver: Do you know how much money and time you have saved during online education? If you want to look at the positive side you can see how students and teachers do not waste their time moving between where they live and the university campus (or any educational institution). Art students face additional challenges because the studio environment is a huge part of the “art school experience”. This means they will need to prepare their off-site work space, and to connect virtually and frequently with other students or friends. They also do not have to bear any additional expenses related to housing, travel costs, textbooks, and other requirements to complete the traditional learning process. This makes online education a relatively affordable experience. 

Providing an enjoyable, new interactive experience: Traditional education may indeed provide a higher rate of interactivity, but it may not necessarily be pleasant. In contrast to the online education process, students with many interactive activities raise their efficiency and improve their performance. Examples include virtual trips to places and sites related to the educational curriculum. 


about the author

AMAN ALCHOKR / 25

Backstory

My life is all about transitions. I was born and raised in Syria, where I studied architecture for two years. In 2014, I moved to the United States, where life was extremely different from before. I had to restart my degree from the beginning, but for some reason, I did not have the strength to study architecture again, which led me to a new path, Communication Design. Studying Communication design was the best decision I have ever made in my life. After all, I learned how to find positivity in every situation, which is the key to everything.

Independent Students Changing the Narrative and Breaking Cycles

Shifts during a pandemic.

Kailee Bye


Today’s college experience is less than typical. This year has brought about uncertainty, grief and loss. Loss of our social lives, loss of our schedules and for an unfortunate sum, loss of a family member. It is sometimes too heavy to bear the weight of the collective trauma the world is experiencing right now. With everything going on, college students are continuing to persevere with the goal of reaching the finish line and obtaining a degree. Our lives do not stop, and college campuses are continuing to figure out the best way to serve students through this uncharted territory. For Epic Scholars feelings of grief, uncertainty and upheaval are all too familiar. Epic Scholars is a scholarship program that serves independent students, many of whom have had experience in the foster care system. I am a peer leader for this program and have worked with our coordinators and colleagues to build a warm, accepting community. Just before the pandemic hit, we were making strides in building the community. We hosted monthly in-person events that usually provided a meal, friendship and meaningful dialogue. Now we are navigating a virtual space, trying to figure out how we can continue to strengthen this community of strong spirits. Below is an interview of a current Epic scholar that addresses their experience as an independent student in a pandemic.

Kiara Galvan is a junior at MSU Denver who is currently pursuing her degree in Social Work. Her path to MSU was not an easy one.

“I was in a really bad place in high school. I was not going to school at all and was going to drop out and I got pregnant. I could barely even take care of myself, so I had made the decision to go back to school and attend an alternative high school. If all I could give to my child was a high school diploma and build off of that then I was going to do that. Unfortunately, I am someone who doesn’t deal with stress in a good manner and I ended up losing the baby because of it. It was a very emotional time for me, but I also felt that everything happens for a reason. Things were just falling into place as things were falling apart so I was just taking everything as it was coming and then one of my college counselors came into my life.”

Kiara was helped by her school counselor and a coordinator of the Excel program at MSU, Luis Sandoval. “My counselor and advocates helped me see past all of that– like the ‘I can’t do it, I can’t afford it, that’s not for me.’” Kiara now finds herself as a peer leader for the Epic Scholars program and attributes her confidence in school to the help of the Epic Scholars Program. “I could not imagine my life without anyone at Epic, I seriously connect with everyone there on a personal level. Everybody in Epic is a survivor of their circumstance. I don’t even have to know what happened, to know that they are a survivor. The vibe is always so loving and warm. I’ve learned so many lessons from everyone in Epic, especially from Miguel, the coordinator. I can’t believe all of the opportunities he’s given me and the opportunities I’ve seen him give other students. That’s what I love about this program, everyone in Epic just gives what they can, when they can, and that’s what a whole family is about. On top of being a support system for me, Epic has literally saved me from being homeless. I don’t have parents to stay with if I need a place to go, so Epic has been my source of safety and support.”

When asked about how the pandemic has affected her college experience, Kiara said its been hard and comes with its own set of challenges when you already didn’t have a familial support system in the first place.

“One thing that has been bad, is being inside all of the time. I mean I am a reserved person, so being introduced to a group of people made me feel a different way. It is hard to have that taken away from me, not seeing people in person.”

“Especially for us in the program this was our community and we worked so much to build it. We were really getting somewhere; we were having so many people show up to events and really made me feel like we could just grow our program. Now I feel like we are stuck in between where we were about to go and I hate that in-between feeling, the uncertainty is uncomfortable for me. One thing that has been bad, is being inside all of the time. I mean I am a reserved person, so being introduced to a group of people made me feel a different way. It is hard to have that taken away from me, not seeing people in person. So, I am just so thankful that I am able to work in the program and still connect with others in the program [virtually].”

When admitting new members to the program we ask, ‘what makes you epic’ and participants always have unique stories of how and why they are exceptional college students. What makes Kiara epic is her “resilience and bouncing back with whatever happens.” She has gone through some things that are not typical in a college experience. “Each semester I am given a challenge to overcome while trying to overcome the daily challenges with school, no one has ever done this in my family. I see myself as a stronger person because of it. I think I always try to see the best in situations and always try to help others see the better side of things too.” Kiara strives to keep that positivity alive in her own life and uses this philosophy when she helps others navigate their college experience. “You didn’t go through all of that for nothing…make something of it. Don’t make it a negative thing — it can be such a negative thing, but I don’t want to live that life. I don’t want to be another person that let what happened to them, ruin their life. I want to be a strong person.”

There are many others like Kiara in the Epic Scholars program. We use this program to lift each other up and support students, with the end goal of graduation. For more info on the Epic Scholars program visit, https://www.msudenver.edu/epic-scholars/.

“You didn’t go through all of that for nothing…make something of it. Don’t make it a negative thing — it can be such a negative thing, but I don’t want to live that life. I don’t want to be another person that let what happened to them, ruin their life.”


about the author

Kailee Bye / 25

Backstory

Hi, I am a student at MSU Denver and BFA in Communication Design candidate. Throughout my college experience, I have been an independent student and I have had to navigate college alone. With the help of this scholarship program, my experience has changed and I feel less alone in this process. I am an advocate for foster youth and education as a pathway to empowerment and success. I believe college support programs, like Epic Scholars, are vital to the success of students.

Results of Justice

What our communities contributions have brought out.

Sergio Vera Vazquez


As of today, October, the 6th 2020, there have been various results of the justice that has been fought for. A scale of neutral, negative to gross, but we are here to talk about our communities. How they have changed and how they will change in the future. Our communities, after seeing the results of various cases, have not stopped fighting. We have not forgotten those who are no longer with us, and we have not forgotten the persecutors’ actions.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our communities keep questioning these ideas and results. We keep asking ourselves what we can do next. That next is positive. That next is what we are seeking. That next is what will keep the Black Lives Matter movement moving.

The commonality that we have as communities is what will bring that positive result in our future. The feeling we get when we help each other and that feeling that we get when we see someone else happy is what we will see in our futures. We need to keep fighting and fight that divide that keeps separating us on every occasion. It is hard to determine what will happen to our communities in the future, but I am certain that we will not go down without a fight.

I will tell our communities that we are stronger together. We will keep on fighting. We will keep our heads high. We will discover and embrace our communities. We will change what is wrong in our society. We will keep being positive even in tragic times. We will make those tragic situations our own, and we will never forget those lives. We will fight for our future. Our future will be held together by our communities. Our kids and our grandkids will embrace that future. That future is what we seek.


about the author

Sergio Vera Vazquez / 25

Backstory

I was born in Mexico, but lived most of life in the United States. I started to learn about my love of design around the age of 21, I began pretty late. From there I explored different interests I had from engineering, illustration, and photography. I embraced graphic design as I really enjoyed the creativity to it and the ways one’s voice can be heard.