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CARES grants ease COVID burdens for LSCPA students

How big was a $1,000 LSCPA CARES grant for Lamar State College Port Arthur student Jermyni Bell?

“OMG!” she answered the email announcing her award. “This is truly a blessing! Thanks so much!

Bell is just one of 533 Lamar State College Port Arthur spring students to be awarded $1,000 grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized by Congress and dedicated to LSCPA through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

In all, the college awarded $533,000 in LSCPA CARES grants to students. The grants are to be used for expenses related to disruptions to the students’ educations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In mid-March, social distancing orders forced everyone to abandon on-campus learning in favor of online education while self-quarantining at home. Bell said her spring 2020 semester at Lamar State College Port Arthur “was very weird” because of the changes.

Then Bell’s job shut down “for a minute,” and after it restarted, her car broke down on Mother’s Day.

So finding out earlier this week she had been awarded a $1,000 LSCPA CARES emergency funding grant will help the single mother stay on track to graduate in December with an associate of science degree in process technology.

“I’m very thankful for that,” Bell said of the funds. “It’ll definitely help.”

For Dr. Betty Reynard, President of Lamar State College Port Arthur, the opportunity to provide the school’s students some form of help came as a great relief.

“The challenges of being a college student are difficult enough,” Reynard said. “With the threat of COVID-19, moving classes all online and with many people losing their jobs, we wanted to help any way we could. The funding comes at a time when our students really needed that help. We’re proud to be able to distribute this money.”

“It came at a perfect time for me,” Ian Rye of Beaumont said of his LSCPA CARES grant.

Rye, who was able to finish up his associate of arts degree in sound engineering during the chaotic Spring 2020 semester, was working two jobs when the economy shut down.

He lost both.

“During the past few months, I’ve just been living off unemployment,” he said. “I’m very thankful for that grant. I was just grateful to get anything at all.”

Students were notified of the availability of the LSCPA CARES grants about a month ago.

“It was pretty easy,” LSCPA paralegal student Kennedie Babino said of the application process.

“They sent it to my email and phone, telling me to apply if I wanted it.”

Babino said her son’s daycare shut down because of the pandemic.

“I had to take a few weeks off work to take care of him,” she said, and the extra funds will come in handy.

Faith Welch said her $1,000 grant was “going directly toward” her tuition.

“I heard about this from the school email,” she said. “I read up and applied. It was easy to do.”

Enrollment for the 2020 Summer and Fall semesters at Lamar State College Port Arthur is underway now online at lamarpa.edu.