Diné College Students Get Laptops to Finish Out School Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2020
TSAILE, Ariz. — Distance learning has been the standard for nearly a month at Diné College. And it’s no different if someone is a younger or older student.
Shelly Begay of Rampasture, Ariz., is a 56-year-old mother of four and grandmother of two who is pursuing a degree in public health. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has turned her and many students’ spring semester upside down.
Once Diné College shifted to online learning, Begay realized that she needed to complete her coursework away from campus. When she found out that the college could help with a free loaner laptop, she was glad.
“I’m not that good with computers, but I’m learning,” Begay said. “My daughter helps me a lot with what I don’t know. I’m very thankful that I’m getting help.”
Diné College Director of Information Technology Joy Thompson oversees laptop distribution to students who need one for classes. Thompson said after the college shifted to online course instruction around the end of March due to COVID-19, the school knew some students would need assistance completing assignments. So, laptops and Internet “hotspots” were ordered to help students out.
“A combination (48) of laptops and MAC Air Books were ordered,” Thompson said, saying the cost of each machine ranged from $500 to $700. “There are more (40) to be purchased.”
Thompson said 125 wireless Internet units with wireless data plans were ordered, too, she said, for students who do not have internet access at their homes. Those students who are scheduled to graduate this year have first priority at machine use, Thompson said.
“These internet connection service devices, called ‘MyFis,’ are portable modems that connect directly to the Internet and allow students personal internet access for use with all of their classes, uploading their assignments and communicating with their instructors. (Cellular One) gave us a great deal and I have heard good things, easy to use, great signal strength. It comes with a data plan that allows for enough data to be carried them through the remainder of the semester,” Thompson said.
In addition, students can access the Internet from wire access points at either of the college’s six campuses. The access points are the student parking lots, which means students must drive to these locations. Hours are within the curfew times stipulated by the college.
“They (students) work from their cars and stay out of the buildings,” Thompson said. “They can use their normal college credentials and they can connect. It’s convenient, but they can’t use it when the campuses are closed. It’s a good option for students who have cars or are near the campuses.”
Begay makes the 25-minute drive to the Tsaile campus, she said. She said either the Tsaile or Chinle campus works best for her in terms of distance.
Diné College postponed the 2020 commencement ceremony, but graduates will receive their caps and gowns and diplomas, college officials have said.
The computer shipments began arriving around the first of the month, with dozens more still flowing in, Thompson noted. Begay said she’s up to date on her class assignments. She said she’s thankful for the fact that the college has stuck its hand out to help students — most of whom live in remote areas of the Navajo Nation and with little to no Internet access.
“I’m not a traditional college student,” Begay said. Begay said she first started college at age 35, saying she “partied hardy” during her younger years and was hospitalized from an automobile accident at age 39. “I’ve been in and out of school for a long time. I’m really thankful, and all the people I know taking classes out at Tsaile are glad that Diné College is helping people get through this.”
Also, Diné College has organized a gofundme page to assist students in need with finances for things like computers, food and health care due to COVID-19. Donations to the fund are tax deductible.
Thompson said if students need technological help, IT (remote) assistance is a telephone call away at (928) 724-6675.
Marie R. Etsitty Nez
Vice President of External Affairs
George Joe, M.A., M.Ed, Director Of Marketing and Communications
Bernie Dotson, Public Relations Officer
Scott Tom, Graphic Design and Digital Media Specialist
Jazzmine D. Martinez, Marketing Assistant