April 1, 2020 – Watching a video on your phone is a fairly common practice. Watching a class lecture on your phone isn’t so different. But trying to type up term papers? That’s quite a challenge. When staff at the college found out this was how Stevon Brewster was keeping up with not only with his homework but also his work-study assignments, they said hold the phone.
“You need to talk to Dr. Bea,” Javan Brown thought while Brewster was reporting on his technological adaptations in the wake of COVID-19. They were on a Zoom call that Brown organized for students in My Brother’s Keeper, a unique mentorship program at the college. Tasked with helping young men of color to mentor and help each other, Brown, the coordinator for MBK, wanted to know how each of his students was holding up amid virtual classes and social isolation.
“I applauded him for his discipline first,“ says Brown, “but after the call, I immediately reached out to Dr. Bea Awoniyi.”
“Dr. Bea” is the Ombudsperson for Santa Fe College and she has been finding support for SF students in numerous ways, including helping them gain access to computers.
Where are these computers coming from? One program housed at SF’s Blount Center has been instrumental in providing laptops for students. E2T2 is a “train the trainer” program that teaches volunteers from churches and other groups how to offer tech support and training to their respective communities. They had a small collection of surplus computers available when COVID-19 struck.
Blount Center staff Ron Mills and Andy Anderson recently restored the E2T2 laptops. After permission was received to distribute them to students in need, Anderson started driving all across the service district, delivering them to students in grocery store and fast food parking lots, from Bronson to Bo Diddley Plaza. They started with 19 laptops. Brewster would be number 11. But his would be more challenging. He had returned to stay with his family in Orlando.
That’s when Brown called in Edgar Jones.
Jones Is a recent graduate of SF’s Institute of Public Safety and a very active member and mentor in MBK. He had joined the initial Zoom call checking in with everyone in the group. He understood Brewster’s challenges and quickly volunteered to drive the laptop to Orlando.
“Mr. Brown, it’s so much easier on the computer compared to my phone!” Brewster reported back, two days after receiving the laptop. ”Yesterday I finished two of my papers that were late.”
Any students in need of assistance are encouraged to reach out and call Dr. Bea at 352-395-5513 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is help available.