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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Student with laptop

The UD Way

Looking around campus, you would struggle to find a harder working first-year student than Odyssey Oehme. Last semester she took 19 credit hours while working two part-time jobs: 15 hours a week as a desk assistant on campus and 17 hours on the weekends as a dietary aid at a local nursing home. Supporting herself while in school is a necessity, but nevertheless a daunting task — especially when large expenses hit.

“When I came to UD, I was using my brother’s old laptop and it wasn’t fit for the programming I was using for my classes,” she said. “It had some years on it … I could barely even get Wi-Fi.”

A new computer was not in her budget — and that’s when donor support came through. Although the University’s One Day, One Dayton giving day events couldn’t take place due to the pandemic, donors rallied to create a day of sharing and caring and support critical needs through areas like the UD Fund. This general fund was used to provide Oehme with a brand-new laptop computer, one equipped to handle her coursework. 

“Buying a computer would have really put me in the hole, so it means a lot,” she said.

She is one of seven UD students who have received a loaner computer through the use of these funds — showing how unrestricted gifts can be used to meet students’ immediate needs.

Aaron Witherspoon, director of University advising initiatives and student success, headed up the effort. “We started hearing about this problem around two weeks into the fall semester. We always have some students with computers they had through high school that die on them. Or they have an older model they can’t afford to fix. It happens every semester, but it was exacerbated this fall, with so much being online.”

Witherspoon worked with campus partners to address the problem, consulting faculty members and advisers to identify students with computer issues and then the financial aid office to ensure need existed.

“This has had a big impact on these students,” Witherspoon said. “Some were sharing computers with their roommates or trying to use their phones. Others had computers that weren’t reliable. If they had to attend a class online, it made it difficult.”

During the day of sharing and caring, donors delivered this impact and more by providing $50,000 of support to the UD Fund. These unrestricted gifts enabled the University to act fast, purchasing brand-new HP notebook laptops and loaning them to the students early in the semester. “They can check them out for a week or two weeks, the entire semester, or even the entire time they’re here, if need be,” said Witherspoon.

“This is a testament to the UD way,” he continued. “We see an urgent need and come together and figure it out.”

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