Jorge Sandoval, a graduate psychology major, had to take an educational leave because college turned out to be too expensive. Just before his return, Sandoval was injured a car accident that left him unable to work. However, Sandoval was able to use the Student Emergency Grant and food resources to get by.
Sandoval currently has temporary resident status, and his annual renewal was approaching but the car accident left him with no source of income.
“I came to the Dream Success Center, here on campus, in shambles, crying because I didn’t know what to do,” Sandoval said. “I had a 3.5 GPA and it had taken me 10 years to get to where I was at that point. I felt like my dream was slipping away.”
With the help of staff from the Dream Success Center, Evelyn Klaus and Yadi Ortiz, Sandoval was introduced to the Student Emergency Wellness and Intervention Program which helped get Sandoval through the semester.
Sandoval was one of the three students who spoke at the Associated Student Inc.’s panel alongside Long Beach State professor Rashida Crutchfield, and fellow students Jesus Tinoco, an athletic training major, and Imani Moses, a community health education major, on Tuesday Nov. 14. The panel is the first event planned for Homelessness Awareness Week.
“Validate your feelings like, ‘Hey life sucks right now I need help.’ It’s already hard enough being a college student and then to be undocumented, homeless, food insecure and then whatever else is troubling you,” Sandoval said.
Crutchfield has been studying homelessness and hunger faced by college students through the California State University system. Crutchfield’s research uses data collected from the entire CSU system. However, only six percent of the students answered the survey, 24,324 participants.
Her research found that 41.6 percent of CSU students reported food insecurity and 10.9 percent of CSU students reported that they were homeless. Students facing food or housing insecurity experienced physical and mental health consequences that were associated with lower academic achievement, according to Crutchfield.
LBSU aims to help these students with the Basic Needs programs, which consists of the ASI Beach Pantry, the CalFresh Outreach Program, the Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness Program and the Beach Bites.
Nutrition professor Jessica Beaudoin brought her class to the event. “This week we were focusing on hunger and food insecurity in our class and i found out about the event this afternoon and i thought how timely and what better way to illustrate the issue especially on college campuses,” said Beaudoin. “I thought it was an important issue to bring more awareness to … and a lot of student don’t realise how close to home this issue is and how prevalent in our campus community.”
After Crutchfield finished her presentation, Tinoco, Moses and Sandoval took the stage to share their experience with services LBSU offers.
Tinoco was the victim of a drive-by shooting that left him unable to work; he was attempting to transition from being a waiter to an EMT. Tinoco was attempting to receive the grant for recipient of deferred action for childhood arrivals in order to renew his work permit.
“I’m undocumented so im a dreamer I went to get that grant that they give us to pay for our renewal. . . I was just looking for ways to get by before getting back to work. I ended up with Dr. Ken, he actually helped me out with the Emergency Grant and the food resources we have here on campus,”
Moses found herself homeless living in her car August 2017.
“I have a hard time asking for help,” Moses said. “I’m a very prideful person.”
It took three applications for housing before she was granted a place in the dorms. Through her time at LBSU she has made many connections that have kept her on track.
“[Two semesters ago], I almost did not take my classes or finish my tests. I ran into Iraida and she was there for me, to just give me a hug. Because I got that hug, I took my classes and passed the semester,” said Moses.
“I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or where I was going to eat but thanks to their support, I was able to breathe easy,”Sandoval said.
The three students said they still see room to grow for assistance programs at LBSU.
“If they are able to represent their sports and show them off on huge boards like in the parking lot, they can do it for these [programs],” Tinoco said. “It’s just as if not more important that sports because it regards our mental health and education.”
The students all agreed that looking for help is key.
“It’s really hard to ask for help for whatever reason [like] pride,” Sandoval said. “We don’t think we deserve it, or we think we’re strong enough. Let yourself get help, allow yourself to say, ‘I deserve this, I deserve to be here, I deserve to be happy and I deserve whatever it is I need to succeed.’”