The past two months have been challenging for college student Lyndon Mengote, 20, and his family of eight.
A second year civil engineering student at De La Salle University, Mengote immediately felt the impact of the enhanced community quarantine on their family’s finances. His parents, who had to close their food stall at a wet market, tried selling fruits, but this was not enough to cover their expenses. His elder brother had to temporarily stop his work at an IT firm.
Mengote is a university scholar and a working student. Apart from being an officer of the La Sallian Scholars Society, Civil Engineering Society, and the University Student Government, he also juggles a part-time job as a food delivery rider. On some days, he logs on to his online classes in between delivery trips.
The pressure of having online classes also takes its toll. “When you’re at school, you can focus on school work. But at home, it’s hard to concentrate when you have to think of what food to prepare, house chores, siblings who need to be taken care of,” said Mengote.
At school, students have access to up-to-date computers and unlimited WiFi access. But at home, the lack of capable devices and access to a reliable internet connection also adds to his daily concerns.
“For me, mobile data is not a want; it’s a need. I need it in my everyday life,” said Mengote.
Recognizing the plight of students and scholars like Mengote, fellow La Salle students Ronin Leviste and Charlie del Rosario stepped up to find ways to provide connectivity support to their schoolmates.
In a Facebook post, Leviste said: “The changes in the academic calendar have not been easy for many of us, especially for our scholars and students who have limited access to internet services.” Leviste is the University Student Government’s vice president for external affairs.
In collaboration with Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), Leviste and Del Rosario have secured prepaid mobile load credits for hundreds of Lasallian students and scholars.
“This should be able to give hundreds of students temporary access and relief in adjusting to the academic changes,” said Leviste. “We know that this will not completely solve the entire accessibility issue, but we hope that this will be of help.”
“We are grateful for the opportunity to extend assistance to De La Salle University,” said Jane B. Basas, senior vice president and head of Consumer Wireless Business. “Through Smart’s fast and reliable service, we hope to help boost the connectivity requirements of students and scholars, to help spur learning and productivity in this time of social distancing,” she added.
Mengote said the load assistance was a big help to him and his classmates, especially those who had no internet connection at home or those who lived in the provinces.
Online learning is a challenge, he said, but he’s doing his best to finish his course. In two years, he hopes to fulfill his dream of becoming a civil engineer and be able to provide more for his family. “I want to help my parents because they are not getting any younger. I also want to help my siblings finish their own studies,” he said.