A Club Helping Students

The Undercover Student Support Foundation


Laraya Billups

Cassandra Zendarski (far left), Sarah McIntyre (middle left), Kameron Kyles (middle), Laraya Billups (seated), Brittany Utley (middle right), and Kennesha Parker (far right) are members of the Student Support Foundation. As a volunteering activity, the members went to Walmart to buy presents for the Boys and Girls Club.

Laraya Billups, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – The Student Support Foundation is a club at Bridgewater College that helps students pay for necessities they cannot afford through an endowment sponsored by the Morgridge Family Foundation and David Bushman, the president of Bridgewater College.

Many college students can relate to a financial struggle. While some students can ask their parents to provide funds for the items they need, other students must work for themselves to receive money.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, seven percent of undergraduates were employed less than ten hours per week, eight percent were employed ten to 19 hours per week, 17 percent were employed 20 to 34 hours per week, and 10 percent were employed 35 hours or more per week.

These undergraduates are also enrolled full time in college, which comes with its own expenses. Between the years of 2006-07 and 2016-17, college tuition prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board at public institutions “rose 31 percent, and prices at private nonprofit institutions rose 24 percent,” stated by the National Center for Education Statistics. 

While most parents handle tuition costs, some college students must handle buying their own textbooks and other items for classes.

According to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have “risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.” Because classes require textbooks, college students must purchase the textbooks in order to be successful in the class.

On top of all these expenses, college students must pay for any medications, groceries, emergency situations and gas money to travel home on breaks. At Bridgewater College, the Student Support Foundation has been created to relieve the load on college students.

“The Student Support Foundation was founded in the fall of 2015,” said Dr. Karie Dornon, faculty advisor for the Student Support Foundation. “It’s meant to provide a helping hand and financial assistance to the Bridgewater community both on and off campus.”

The club is sponsored by the Morgridge Family Foundation which gives a grant of $4,000 each year to support students on campus. During the last two years, President Bushman has “matched this grant with an extra $4,000,” according to Dr. Dornon. 

Students can access assistance from the Student Support Foundation through filling out an application on MyBC. The foundation’s board members then have a meeting to determine if the student is awarded the money. 

Photo by Laraya Billups
Kiersten Haynes (far left), Sarah McIntyre (middle left), Mary Imo (seated), Kennesha Parker (middle), Lea Njosa (middle right), and Kameron Kyles (far right) are all board members for the Student Support Foundation. They participated in Homecoming by having a bake sale.

“There’s a reasonable amount of the campus that utilizes the SSF application,” said senior Kennesha Parker, the fundraising chair of the Student Support Foundation. “Generally, most students get approved as long as they have substantial reasoning for needing the money.” 

Students then receive a check from the faculty advisor with the amount of money the Student Support Foundation has given them. 

“We use the Honor Code when we give money to students that states that they will use it for what they asked for,” said Kameron Kyles, the current president of the Student Support Foundation.

In addition to giving students funds, the Student Support Foundation also volunteers in the Bridgewater community and off campus. 

“Last year, we gave gift cards to the housekeeping staff on campus, and I think we were the first club that prioritizing showing appreciation to them,” said Kyles. “We also planted trees and helped clean up the river in Harrisonburg. This year, we’re volunteering at the Boys and Girls club.”

Kyles has been dedicated to spreading the word at Bridgewater College about the Student Support Foundation, and it gives him a sense of pride.

“It is rewarding for me to help people and lead a nonprofit club.”