We are currently living through a historical moment in history as the infamous coronavirus sweeps across the globe. This dreaded pestilence has definitely brought along a sense of worldwide urgency and caution with it. An incredible amount of panic and fear has been instilled within the affected areas making day-to-day life a real struggle for many, including myself. As the death toll rises in America, the United States government has enforced travel bans and changed many of its modes of operation in order to prevent contraction of the COVID-19 virus. The virus has not only proved dangerous, but also so contagious that a stay-at-home order was enacted at the state level in California.
Many jobs have been furloughed and all Southern California schools have been closed due to the recommendation by the World Health Organization and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that as a single man, living alone with no family support, I will no longer earn what I need to provide for basic needs due to these company-wide layoffs. My income was already reduced dramatically when I was put on medical leave from my job after a three-car collision on the 91 Freeway, which caused spinal injuries to my neck and back because I was seated on the passenger side of the vehicle where the majority of the damage was inflicted. Now, only a few months later, I have been laid off from my paintball/airsoft referee position due to the closure of the SC Village Paintball and Airsoft Park because of the coronavirus pandemic.
I am a first-year and first-generation college student at Norco College. Unfortunately, all classes have been moved to an online format in order to comply with the new health and safety regulations. This affects me in a major way. As a former foster youth, I was blessed enough to receive services at school such as food vouchers for lunch and assistance in acquiring textbooks. I also utilized other resources offered on the campus, such as computer and printing services. Without the use of these amenities, I really don’t know how I can graduate with a degree.
Since the online transition, I was forced to find a reliable laptop to use as well as a secure internet connection. I had neither. Add to that hurdle the fact that I have no income anymore and where does that leave me? Struggling to prosper scholastically, to pay for school supplies, and to feed myself; that’s where. The grocery store shelves are empty because people bought up all the inventory to hoard at home in preparation for what they assume to be apocalyptic times. Currently, survival does not by any means seem easy, let alone finishing a post-secondary education successfully.
In hopes that the pandemic will come to a close eventually, I have begun obtaining the resources necessary to continue on the path of college graduation. My school was able to loan me a laptop to use during this online phase of instruction, which will help me tremendously. Although, the laptop is nearly useless without a Wi-Fi connection. So the next step was to contact wireless service providers and plead for their help over the phone. Fortunately, it worked. Spectrum, of Charter Communications, offered me two months of wireless data services that included the necessary hardware; a wireless internet router and modem, along with all required ethernet and power cords. Now that I have the means to continue my college coursework, I can relax a little, but there are a whole slew of problems that still lie ahead.
Seeing firsthand how the COVID-19 virus has affected the world so quickly and brutally has caused a shift in my perspective. It caused me to re-evaluate my priorities, on a subconscious level, resulting in new goals and direction for my future. I will never again feel secure working as an employee for most companies. I feel as if they can take away my earning ability at first sight of disaster. Sure, this may be viewed as misplaced anger, seeing as how it was the government that forced my employer to involuntarily shut down all operations, but nevertheless I yearn for a means of financial security. I am convinced at this point, that unless I am self-sufficient in business, success will never be guaranteed. I may want to start my own company eventually or just work self-employed.
I also noticed what it was that people gravitated toward when crisis struck. Take for example the hoops that I was willing to jump through in order to obtain an internet connection at my home and how dire I considered it to be to my well-being. The recent virus outbreak has encouraged me to pursue a knowledge of subjects for purely my own understanding; I want to explore the field of telecommunications now that I have recognized its importance in the modern day. I also want to change my major from engineering to biology, possibly microbiology. I feel inclined to study genetics because I have realized that it might put me in a position where I can change the world. We are relying on our greatest minds spanning the globe to come up with an antivirus for COVID-19. When they find it, the entire human population will benefit. That is an impact that I want to be a part of; that is something that will make fighting for a normal life every single day, finally worth it.
Brandon Brown was 4 years old when his parents divorced and separated. At 5 years old, he was kidnapped by his father who was later jailed on unrelated charges. Brown then lived with his dying grandmother until being returned to his mother’s care. By that time, she had another child by another man; welcome little brother. Brown has always thirsted for knowledge and questioned the dynamics of the world. In the third grade Brown was admitted to a Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE) and continued in those programs for a number of years. In high school Brown was removed from the home due to domestic issues and transitioned into foster care. He went to seven different high schools, making it difficult to transition over completed course work and credits from previous schools. He always got good grades but lost a lot of credits in the translation of transcripts. He concluded high school at Community Day School in Apple Valley, California, while placed at a group home facility. They did not offer diplomas there and so he never received one and did not experience a graduation ceremony. At 17, Brown enlisted in the Army when his mother eagerly signed him over, and scoring well on the placement exam. Unfortunately, just shy of his ship date, Brown got into trouble and was not available to leave on the assigned date. Brown then got a job as a sushi chef and rode his bicycle 12 miles round trip to work each day until saving enough money for a car. Just last year Brown began attending college with the help of the Phoenix Scholars Program at Norco.