When Alexis Richardson suddenly found herself unable to work due to the pandemic, she worried about her ability to continue her education and make ends meet. Then, she received aid through COVID relief funds—a combination of government money from the CARES Act and the gifts from donors for students who were financially impacted by COVID.
The funds helped students like Richardson with extra costs and basic necessities like food and housing. Richardson received $2,000 in aid, which she used for car repairs so she could get back and forth to work.
“I was relieved I was able to have sufficient funds to take care of myself,” she said. “Union’s contribution helped immensely.”
Richardson was working on campus as a janitor and with Lincoln Family Services as a teacher’s aide for a daycare. She recently was able to return to both jobs, but potential restrictions leave both income sources uncertain.
“I’m amazed at the generosity of Union,” she said. “Without the scholarships and COVID relief aid, I wouldn’t be able to continue my education.”
Scholarships Open Doors
Richardson attributes this generosity as the main reason she chose Union in the first place. Now a senior set to graduate in December 2021, she knows she made the right choice for high quality, affordable education.
Originally, she wanted to attend the same college as her high school friends. While visiting her dad after graduating he mentioned Union College.
“He scheduled a visit immediately after learning I’d never visited the campus before,” she said. After, she spent time in deep prayer trying to make a decision.
“Everyone around me was telling me to attend Union,” she said. “I told God, ‘I don’t know.’”
When Richardson discussed college options with her dad, the scholarships offered by Union made the conversation easier. She realized she qualified for a scholarship at Union, unlike at her previous college choice.
“God was opening doors. I felt Union really wanted me,” she said. “And, without the scholarship, I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue my education if things got tough financially.”
Finances are stressful. Every bit of scholarship or financial aid award can help lower that stress, which allows students to focus on their educational, spiritual, and social goals.
“Attending Union College has been about growth and getting to know myself personally,” said Richardson. When I arrived, I didn’t know who I was.” Unsure about what to major in or future goals, Richardson began her undergraduate degree as a general studies major.
“My dad told me, ‘You’ll find out who Alexis is in college.’ I’m stronger than when I first came here,” she said. “Union and the relationships I’ve made here are helping me learn, grow and become the person I was destined to be.”
At first Richardson thought about pursuing law. She switched from general studies to social work with the intent of becoming a family lawyer.
After taking a sociology class and speaking with her advisor, her desire shifted. “I realized I love working with kids,” she said. “I see there’s a big need in the field of trauma therapy.” As a social work major, Richardson likes the flexibility of also being able to pursue counseling or working with families in the home.
“God brought me into this world to help others realize they matter,” she said. “I know He’ll help me accomplish my dreams, wherever they lead next.”
Richardson credits much of her growth to the support she’s had at Union.
“I can tell the staff here truly care, and they’ve been supportive through my struggles,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the community and commitment they’ve shown towards helping me live out my calling.”
Your gifts on Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season help Union College fund scholarships to make it possible for Alexis and many other students to have an educational experience that will change their lives. Plus, if you give before January 31, your gift will be doubled thanks to a $55,000 challenge match. Please give now at ucollege.edu/giving
by Emily Roque Cisneros, a Union College graduate and
freelance writer based in Berrien Springs, Michigan.