Our Houston, Texas Young Advocates shared their feelings surrounding COVID-19 and how it has impacted their lives.
“I am a Type 1 Diabetic who doesn’t have health insurance. Texas has the largest uninsured rate in the country because the Texas government has not elected to take federal aid to increase the number of individuals that can be on Medicaid. This has left me and millions of other young Texans in the Medicaid gap.
What if I have coronavirus? Usually, since I am uninsured, I don’t make any attempt to go to the doctor unless I have to. What will the medics say when I tell them I don’t have insurance? I have literally spent the last 48 hours in peril and have had waves of crying spells because I legitimately feel hopeless. Will the Texas medical system help me or embarrass me?” – Christine Mompoint, Houston Community College student
“I have been laid off from work indefinitely which has made me rethink life from a different perspective; of hope and strength. We need to be optimistic and full of gratitude in the midst of chaos and panic.” – Imad Farooque, University of Houston-Downtown student
“Many of my fears towards coronavirus have stemmed from misinformation and just not knowing how and where this virus can be contracted.
As a young adult I advise others to take this time to plan and create, the panic does mean life has to suddenly stop; spend time outside by taking a walk, or reading a book you never have time to read. Our mental health is just as important as our bodily health.” Jasmin Kemp, Texas Southern University student
“I reflected on how unprepared I felt despite my education. I reflected on how helpless I felt being miles away from my family knowing they were struggling in the midst of this viral chaos. I think I reflected most of all on those who are socially vulnerable.” Miracle Orji, The University of Texas Health Science student
“I believe that colleges should have free testing for students that are still on campus, because they wont be getting the services they paid for since campuses are getting shut down, so the least the campuses can do for the student is give them free testing.” Tomi Gbolabo, University of Houston student
“I was relieved to know I would still be able to get a paycheck from work. But then I realized how bad my position actually was. As a cashier, I come into contact with a lot of people, and as I work during a pandemic that pushes isolating practices, I obviously cannot socially distance myself. My risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher than others and it feels horrible to know I could possibly increase the spread. Not only that, but I have recently become uninsured so the possibility of high medical costs is also a looming thought in my head.
I genuinely believed I was in the green zone against COVID-19 considering I live at home with my parents. I knew my job was not going to shut down for isolation reasons, and I’m a young person. This meant I wasn’t going to be kicked out of my campus since I do not dorm, I didn’t have to fear losing a paycheck as a cashier, and lastly, the chances of my health being at serious risk were very low since fatality rates among young people were considerably lower than other age demographics. But alas, I quickly proved myself wrong as the virus continued to spread.” Priscila Barrientos, University of Houston student
“I worry for the health of my family, some of whom are immunocompromised, loved ones, and community. I have felt various strong emotions throughout this pandemic. Anger and fear have been at the forefront. I have been stressed and anxious every single day; I am unsure of how to help my community.
I believe this is our opportunity to fix the system and bring about a more equitable, community centered society. It is an opportunity to abolish every oppressive condition and structure that has led to this global crisis.” Rio Gonzalez, Young Advocate, Houston
“Besides the most obvious impact this virus has, the health impact it is going to have on potentially millions of Americans, is the impact it will have on people who live paycheck to paycheck who work in non essential businesses who now have no way of making money and are being forced to stay home.” Simon Marquez, University of Houston student
“I often found myself complaining about everything I had to do on a daily basis and I even felt exhausted from the busy days. I did not realize then how great things were and how my busy schedule kept me focused and on task. I went from feeling invincible to vulnerable and scared in an instant.
It is important to see what your local community may be providing in terms of missed payments, school lunches, and other resources. If you have a job, check what your employer may offer, such as extended sick time, work from home, paid salary if they shut down. If you were laid off or had hours reduced, other companies such as Amazon or H-E-B may have temporary work.” Olivia Garcia, University of Houston student
“The ability to be able to consult with my professor one-on-one is very crucial for me and I will drastically miss this service because yes I will be able to contact my professor via email, however, the one to one contact is unmatched since I strongly believe the professor-student contact is very important.
Colleges should be able to offer a student market, create a survey that allows the student to share their personal story, and if they can afford food and necessities at this time and the university should also have food trucks that offer free food to their students.” Wendy Martinez, University of Houston Student