Scripps Community Rallies to Support One Another in Face of COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has inspired members of the Scripps community to come together in support of one another during these trying times.

By Emily Glory Peters

“How can I help?”

It’s a question that has become a constant chorus among members of the Scripps community in recent weeks. Since COVID-19 caused the temporary closure of Scripps’ campus, our students, faculty, and staff have taken the challenges of distance learning to task. As we cope with these new realities, the broader Scripps family has drawn close to remind us we are not alone.

Alumnae community extends a helping hand

Some of that support has arisen from the alumnae community. As an immunocompromised individual practicing physical distancing, Sneha Deo ’17 reached out to fellow alums for connection—and realized that other students may similarly feel isolated, but not be as comfortable asking for help.

To help, Deo created an online form where alums and students can offer and ask for direct, tangible support. This support can come in the form of meaningful connections or access critical resources, including everything from airline miles to career mentorship. Deo has found the response overwhelming.

“It’s been absolutely amazing to witness the power of our community. Every ask has had a matching offer, often more than one,” she shares. Seeing those needs being met has also reinforced her belief in the value of the Scripps network. Says Deo, “[It’s] an incredible resource that I hope becomes part of our everyday lives.”

To aid current Scripps students affected by the impact of COVID-19, recent alum Sneha Deo ’17 created a Student Support Form to connect them to other alums and critical resources.

Support from the College

Creative solutions have also come from Scripps staff. When the College suspended the 2020 spring season of its signature events program, Scripps Presents, Artistic Director Corrina Lesser brainstormed new ways to leverage the power of performance.

“Anxiety often propels us to an interior space where we feel isolated and trapped in our experiences. The magic of storytelling is that it transports us to other worlds and vantage points—that’s what makes it a great connector,” says Lesser. She tapped into that magic by mining Scripps Presents’ archive of past artists and writers.

“We’re sharing videos to remind our audiences of a time (not so very long ago!) when we could gather together in person,” she says, “and we’re exploring how to host some virtual events. Stay tuned!”

Gifts to emergency funds create much-needed relief

While the mental health boost offered by Scripps Presents is essential in an era of self-isolation, material needs have remained a major concern. Within days of announcing the campus closure, the College provided support for students in need of last-minute flights home, packing supplies, storage, and more. Given the uncertain long-term impact of COVID-19, additional emergency funds were created to extend this relief and to offset unexpected losses for the College. Once again, the Scripps community responded.

“For us, giving was an easy choice to make,” shares Robin Reagan P’22, whose husband Frank Messina P’22 works as an emergency medicine physician in Indianapolis. This frontline battle against COVID-19 underscored the family’s recognition of why extreme measures—like closing Scripps’ campus—were necessary to keep people safe. They gave generously upon learning of the closure, with Reagan also securing an employer match to maximize their gift.

“We know there are Scripps students who don’t have the means to go home or to a place they can study and that professors are scrambling to convert in two weeks an entire half-semester of a syllabus into distance learning. It’s not a trivial exercise,” Reagan says. “We gave because, as past donors, we want everyone to know we’re thinking about you, that we’re with you.”

The campus closure also impacted those planning to attend Reunion Weekend. Still, our alums converted a disappointing postponement into a powerful tool to help others.

“I always look forward to Reunion Weekend because I love to connect with everyone who’s been flung to the four corners—it’s such a wonderful time,” explains Brandy Jenner ’05, who planned to celebrate her milestone reunion year this May. Instead of accepting a reimbursement of her registration fees, she donated them back to the Student Emergency Fund.

“No college student goes into a term thinking a pandemic will take that experience from them. I wanted to contribute to a community that I feel is mine,” she says, encouraging her fellow Reunion alums to follow her lead. “We can put ourselves in the shoes of these students and remember what it would have been like for us.”

Your ongoing support continues to make a difference

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it remains uncertain how long the College will need to exercise extreme distancing precautions. Access to emergency funding will become increasingly vital, as will the need to remain connected as we adapt to our virtual campus. Yet, if the past few weeks have proven anything, it’s that Scripps pride runs deep—and that our family will continue to rally one another with its characteristic courage, confidence, and hope.

Your connection and support make a material difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. To give to Scripps College’s emergency funds, please click here. If you’re interested in offering resources to our students, please add your information to the COVID-19 Student Support Form or click here for other ways to help.

Interested in learning more? Check out our latest giving and impact news here.