Posted: Thursday Feb 21, 2013
Feb. 21, 2013
A new student emergency fund will enable Saint Vincent College to respond quickly with financial support when students encounter unforeseen emergencies.
Initiated by a trio of students with the encouragement of Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B., director of the Office of Campus Ministry and Mary Collins, vice president for student affairs, the fund is designed to be ready to immediately respond like a family member or close friend when students are faced with serious and unexpected life challenges.
Each of the three students – Sarah Sebrosky, Samantha Pashel and Ryan Coyne – have had personal experiences where they wanted to respond to a fellow student in serious need.
“I had a friend who was involved in an accident and was faced with the decision of continuing with classes or paying her medical bills,” Sebrosky said. “It was the first time that something like that happened. I have been aware of several students who had something happen to them that was completely beyond their control and were in need of financial help to stay out of debt and make their lives work. Growing up, I was always taught that if you saw something you didn’t like you should try to change it.”
Sebrosky decided to enlist the help of some friends with similar experiences and made a proposal to the Saint Vincent administration. “Fr. Killian and Mary Collins welcomed the project since they were both aware of these emergency needs,” she added. “We are getting started with some donations that have been made to campus ministry and some funds raised by students for other projects but plan to do some specific fund raising this spring among the students, their parents and alumni. A phonathon staffed by student callers is being planned for Monday, March 18.”
When the students or administration become aware of a student who needs assistance, the administrators will meet quickly to evaluate the request and make a recommendation to the student advisors who will make the final decision. The requests for funds and disbursement will be kept completely confidential. “Students might be embarrassed to ask for assistance so everything about the process will be kept private, including the name of the student,” Sebrosky noted.
Pashel, a friend of Sebrosky, had a mutual friend who was in an accident and wanted to do all she could to help. “Our friend needed help quickly and we wanted to find a way for the campus to help her,” Pashel said. “It helps our campus show that we are more than a campus, we are a family which is here if you need help.”
Coyne was invited to join the group since it was felt that a student prefect would be a good fit. “This is important because emergencies come up, accidents happen,” Coyne said. “They aren’t always big ticket items but for some people it could be $200 needed for a plane ticket to get home in a family emergency or a car repair. Emergencies are stressful times. We want to be there for financial support.”
Fr. Killian welcomes the student initiative since there were several times last year when he became aware of students in emergency situations. “In the midst of the emergency, someone would come to me and say, can we help them or can the school help them? The college is able to help in numerous ways but we are not set up to provide cash for an immediate emergency. When Sarah and Samantha came to me, it was a situation where a student had medical bills and insurance funds had already been depleted. What we hope to do is to raise some funds so that we have money available when something comes up. We would like to have a fund of about $3,000 available.”
The effort is appropriate to Saint Vincent College’s Benedictine mission. “It’s part of our heritage,” Fr. Killian explained. “Various aspects of the Rule of Saint Benedict instruct us to receive all guests as Christ himself. While students are part of the college community, they are also our guests and we have a responsibility for caring for them, making sure they are taken care of. We are instructed in the Gospel to recognize those around us who are in need and reach out to them.”
The fund raising initiative will take place during the pre-Easter Lenten season. “This is a time of sacrifice,” Fr. Killian explained, “We are called to pray, fast and give alms. All of those really involve sacrifice if we are going to be doing a little more than we normally do. Instead of giving alms, we are asking people to consider giving to this particular fund that will help students at Saint Vincent.”
Sebrosky, a senior majoring in computing and information science with minors in mathematics and studio art, is active in campus ministry and is on the campus ministry advisory council. She also is active in the Saint Vincent Basilica Parish where she works with the youth group and Sunday school and serves as one of the catechists. A tutor for the department of computing and information science, she is also a member of the art club. Daughter of Joe and Cathleen Sebrosky of Hagerstown, Maryland, she is a member of St. Ann’s Parish there.
Pashel, a junior majoring in early childhood education, is active in the early childhood education club, the service corps for students with exceptionalities, best buddies, campus ministry and its advisory council. Formerly active with the Girl Scouts, she received a gold award for a project in which she asked for donations of toys that helped with sensory play and stimulation for autistic children. Daughter of Charles and Melissa Pashel of South Side (Pittsburgh), she is a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Allentown.
Coyne, a junior theology and philosophy major with a minor in politics, is active in the SWAG service team, campus ministry lector, respect life club, Knights of Columbus and the Oblate program. He also participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Son of Rick and Angie Coyne of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, he is a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish there. He has participated in several mission trips to Nicaragua and Rome and plans to go to Calcutta and Brazil this summer.
Persons wishing to make a donation to the Saint Vincent College Student Emergency Fund can make a check payable to the fund and mail to the Office of Institutional Advancement, Saint Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650-2690. Donations can also be made online at www.stvincent.edu.-
Photos: Sarah Sebrosky, Samantha Pashel, Ryan Coyne
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