In less than 24 hours, my classes were suddenly catapulted into the online realm of Zoom meetings and frantic Canvas messages. As a paralegal studies major, this was terrifying. In the law field, one detail can change the entire approach to a case, and in an academic setting the answer to an exam question. I was worried about how I was going to understand my more complex topics like tort law and family law without a lecture and being able to speak directly with my teacher.
My school kept sending out contradicting messages. First, all in-person classes would continue if they were not able to do online lectures, like labs and sign language courses. Next, those were canceled. A day later things were going to continue as normal for two days and then the shutdowns would begin. It was utter chaos as my services through the RISE program were thrust online and we were informed that stipend cards we receive monthly would no longer be available. It was a whirlwind of changing information, high anxiety levels and major uncertainty.
My name is Kimberly Martinez.
When classes finally began, I discovered that with my in-person class work now being online I would have to do those assignments while attending a Zoom lecture and switching back and forth between desktops trying to watch the teachers screen share and do my own work at the same time. All of this with the distraction of the internet, my phone, the noises coming from my roommates downstairs and the disruptive noise of delivery trucks going up and down my otherwise crowded street.
With very limited lectures or none at all, my workload at home has doubled as I try to teach myself a subject with very limited resources and stressed-out teachers who are also trying to adjust and are receiving frantic messages from handfuls of other students. My straight A’s that I had been maintaining are starting to look a bit unrealistic during this crazy stressful time and the online structure we are now working with. Luckily, since I was laid off, I have extra time to focus on the added stress of school but I know some of my classmates are working from home and I cannot imagine doing that with the add-on of online classes.
All of my resources on campus are limited to online as well. My counseling appointments are through Zoom meetings. I cannot access the study areas or the free snacks offered by my foster youth program, RISE. Financial aid is only available to me by telephone and waiting to hear about the newly submitted scholarship applications and if and how that process will continue is another uncertainty looming over me at this time. My parking pass sits unused and my gas tank is still on full since I have been at home for 12 days now.
My job shut down on March 13 and I have been unemployed. What started as only until the end of the month has now become “until further notice” – daunting words when it means your income is up in the air and nonexistent for an unknown length of time. My unemployment assistance application has been turned in, but there are hundreds of other applications of people in the same situation and no estimated time frame has been given as to when those applications will be processed and the checks received.
As someone who is considered at risk of serious complications from the virus, my friends have been doing my grocery shopping for me, and I have not come into direct contact with people much during the quarantine. I am even afraid of using my own kitchen without cleaning because my roommates are police officers and could potentially bring the virus home with them. Luckily, as an introvert, I am quite content being home all day despite the inconvenience of not being able to shop for myself when I need things. There is no guarantee the things I need haven’t been bought out by panic shoppers.
At this point during the quarantine, I have barricaded myself indoors and have buried myself in my schoolwork, hoping to maintain my grades and make it through my classes. I am hoping they can get the spread of the virus under control sooner rather than later.
I’ve had the stark realization that now that I have adjusted to life in quarantine, that I will have a difficult time readjusting back to working nonstop and never being home. I am hopeful that everything will be OK, but I am praying that resources for foster youth like myself continue to become available and praying I can keep up with the bills I am unable to defer.
Kimberly Martinez was born in the town of Pasadena, California. As a child, Kimberly was always a confident and mature girl. She is a current high school student attending dual enrollment classes, working at a part-time job at McDonalds.