Community Comes Through During Crisis
Community Comes Through During Crisis

For occupational therapy student Sarah Synek, the support she received during an unprecedented spring semester reaffirmed her faith in the Creighton community and her belief in the Jesuit mission.

“Without knowing me or anything about me, the Creighton community stood with me through this COVID-19 challenge to alleviate the intense financial stress and anxiety I was facing,” Synek said.

Thanks to the generosity of Creighton donors, gifts to the COVID-19 Emergency Student Assistance Fund have provided Synek and students like her with financial support to make ends meet. Like many, Synek lives paycheck to paycheck. After she lost her job due to the pandemic, she began donating plasma to earn money. She filed for temporary unemployment but had not yet been approved as the end of March approached. Synek knew she wasn’t going to have enough to cover both her April rent and bills. Through a Creighton communication, Synek learned about the emergency fund, applied and received support in time to make her April rent payment.

“As a member of our Creighton family, I have discovered that we stand together through challenges and help others through service and grace. Creighton alumni, family, faculty, staff and students are for and with others and, to me, the student emergency fund is a representation of this care,” Synek said.

With her rent paid and the community behind her, Synek could focus on her coursework. She completed the spring semester through online classes and virtual simulation labs. Her experiences with the reimagined, innovative courses provided her with another perspective.

“In the real world, we’ll face challenges,” Synek said. “I know that I can create a plan for a patient and nothing will go according to that plan. Being creative is important. Responding to the pandemic has taught me to be flexible and pragmatic and to use reasoning to guide me.”

Synek has always planned to pursue a career in occupational therapy and would like to be a certified hand therapist. She chose Creighton University for its top rankings and the opportunities for field work in the OT program. During the first year of her Creighton journey, Synek realized her connection with the Jesuit mission.

“The idea of doing ‘more’ has always resonated with me. Occupational therapy is so holistic and allows me to incorporate my undergraduate degree in psychology, my creativity and the cognitive and physical elements of helping and healing others. To find God in all things, in my patients, in my own life—I have really reflected on and applied this Jesuit value in so many ways.”

To find God in all things is a reminder that situations of adversity can be transformed with love, compassion and empathy. Synek says that if she could, she would personally thank each person who donated to the student emergency fund.

“I feel so grateful and completely blessed to know that there is a community that cares about my health, safety and financial well-being even without knowing anything about me.”