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Helping Students Recover from Hurricane Florence

Jasmine Ambrose

Jasmine Ambrose, a graduate student in the NC State College of Education, moved into her new home in Jacksonville, North Carolina, four days before officials declared a mandatory evacuation of the city in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.

The storm would go on to submerge 90 percent of the duplex buildings in her new neighborhood when it slowly crossed the state after making landfall. Ambrose’s house was spared, but her family was without power for a week.

Now that the power is back on, she faces new challenges. With much of Jacksonville destroyed by flood waters and wind damage, she missed work for nearly a month as a classroom observer with the Wolfpack WORKS literacy initiative due to damage at her assigned school. Her two young children will also have missed a month or more of school due to the damage sustained by Onslow County Schools.

She worries about her children falling behind in school and how her work as a classroom observer has been disrupted, she says. The NC State College of Education is giving her one less thing to worry about. Through the Gerald Fund for Emergency Student Support, the college has provided with her financial assistance to pay bills that could not be deferred while her assigned school was closed.

Anonymous donors started the Gerald Fund for Emergency Student Support in December 2013 to help students continue to attend class if they experience a sudden financial issue like an unexpected medical expense or job loss.

Faculty members in Ambrose’s online clinical mental health counseling program informed her and her classmates about the fund after the storm. She applied for assistance and became the first student to receive aid as part of the college’s efforts to help students affected by Florence and Michael.

“I am beyond grateful that the NC State College of Education has this set up for students as it has helped alleviate some financial burden on me in helping me pay some bills that are not deferrable,” she said.

Ambrose plans to become a licensed professional counselor and then pursue a career in teaching. She chose the NC State College of Education for its reputation of being a leader in research and education and for having a counseling education program that is “geared towards finding solutions to social problems that are affecting our communities and youth in huge ways.

“Education is the root solution to all things,” she said. “The first step in any process: instruction.

The college has designated that all gifts made to the Gerald Fund through Dec. 31, 2018, will go to support students like Ambrose who have been impacted by Hurricane Florence and Michael. Since its creation, the fund has provided flexible, immediate financial assistance to 41 students within the college. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Michael, the fund has doubled in size.