Barb Card says a day without learning does nothing for her.
She is “75 years young” and working toward her bachelor of arts in integrated studies at Augusta University. She is a self-professed people person who misses campus life and the relationships she had developed with her fellow students and professors.
“I can learn from anybody … whether it’s the littlest child to my oldest colleague,” she said. “I love to learn.”
Card is on track to graduate this May, a moment she was looking forward to sharing with one of her grandsons who lives in Florida.
“He is supposed to graduate May 2 with a bachelor’s in economics and finance and I was supposed to graduate May 8, and this COVID-19 virus has taken that all away,” she said. “I had borrowed a cap and gown and was looking forward to getting pictures with him. I still hope we can get those photos.”
Card was involved in vehicle accident and had a hard time “putting sentences together and have them mean anything,” something that was frustrating for a published writer. After she recovered, she decided to go back to school as an audit student so she could work on getting those skills back. She was then asked to tutor in the Writing Center but was told she had to start taking classes for credit.
“Much to my shock, I did well,” the retired teacher said. “I got A’s and I said ‘OK, I can do this.’ And then last year, they told me since I’m already taking classes, I may as well get a degree. I only had four classes to take plus a capstone. So I did a capstone last semester, and then I’m doing the last two classes now.”
All of her momentum came to a halt in mid-March, when the school began taking precautions against the COVID-19 virus. Once the decision to move classes online was made, Card started running into obstacles, such as a lack of internet access as well as a working computer.
“I’m not computer savvy … I’m basically learning as I go,” she said. “My friend’s grandson is 2 years old and he’s better on a computer than I am.”
She also doesn’t have a car and can’t get to places easily. With the school and libraries closed, she was looking for ways to get online in time to do her classwork. After a grandson told her about a deal with Comcast, she got connected to the internet. From there, she needed a working computer.
Enter Dr. Scott Wallace, assistant vice president and dean of students in the Division of Enrollment & Student Affairs. After the two connected, it wasn’t long before he was knocking on her door with a laptop.
“It’s really a challenging time for so many of our students. We were getting into the meat of spring semester when we had to suspend classes,” Wallace said. “And then to have classes be conducted in an online format, we knew there were some students who would not be able to continue in the format because of a lack of technology resources.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised when I learned that we had 50 computers set aside to check out to students who needed them. I am thrilled that we could assist students who did not have the technology resources to complete the semester online. I am hopeful that our students will finish the semester strong and I look forward to once again having our students back on campus.”
Card has been homebound for the past four weeks now. She said the experience has been difficult because she gets her energy from being around other people. She added that having the laptop and being able to focus on getting her degree is life giving.
She is grateful for the people in her life who have come to her aid, whether it be from the Writing Center, a friend, classmate or someone from her church family, “all of these people are so helpful and they’ve been so wonderful to me from the get go.”
She said the university’s IT department has even offered to take a look at her old computer to see what can be done when school is back in session.
“I just can’t sing the praises of Augusta University enough,” Card said. “If I was asked on a scale, how grateful I am to Augusta University and Scott Wallace for making this possible, and on a scale from one to 10, it’s a 12.
“I am just so grateful that Augusta University and Dr. Wallace made this possible because otherwise I would have had to forego graduation and forego finishing this semester and drop out for the rest of the semester. So this really gives me a chance to finish my requirements.”