BVU Senior Expresses Gratitude for Support of Student Emergency Fund Amid COVID-19 Battle

David Arona, an international student who has been approved to stay on campus, works with Student Success to assist students struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Arona concludes his academic career with one of his toughest assignments: get BVU’s Lake Energy Extraction (LEEP) project on solid ground for future testing. Playing a role in the development of an invention is no small task.

“Academically, this is my toughest work,” says Arona, a BVU senior physics major.

The task is made more complicated with the coronavirus, which has closed much of the country, including this lakeshore campus, dispersing all but a handful of BVU students from the professors and friends they love.

“My capstone project (LEEP) with Dr. Shawn Stone, Professor of Physics, is kind of hanging by a thread,” Arona says. “I may have to move some of my work from the Science Center to my dorm room.”

Arona remains on campus while working as a Resident Advisor, overseeing the needs of several peers; most of them, like him, international students who can’t return home in the throes of a pandemic. The situation has created hardships beyond academics, Arona says, as he works with Student Success to help care for students during the crisis.

“We continue to hope and pray we can fight through the pandemic.”

David Arona

Some students have needed assistance to arrange for travel home, or elsewhere. Others have sought help to pay for food and other items as their part-time jobs in restaurants and other retail or service sites have been eliminated for the time being.

Students facing critical needs turn to the Student Emergency Fund for much needed assistance. Generous contributions from BVU alumni, parents, and friends of the University allow Student Success officials to provide financial support for students who face emergencies or find themselves in need of funding to pay for travel, food, educational supplies, and more.

The hope is that one day when the beneficiaries of the Student Emergency Fund are in position to pay it forward, they will.

David Arona, class of 2020

Arona, who came from South Sudan, finished his secondary education in Uganda. After graduating from high school, he chose BVU for its science curriculum and a recommendation from a family member. “My cousin, Gum Riak, attended BVU and told me all about what I might expect,” he says.

Arona, who loves both math and physics, is crazy for soccer and basketball. He proudly notes his involvement with BVU soccer and the fact he’s been on successful intramural teams in both sports.

After graduation, Arona will pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, as it suits best the concepts he learned and fine-tuned during his undergraduate experience, one topped with an effort to harness wave energy.

“I have formed lifetime friendships at BVU, becoming friends with international students as well as those from the U.S.,” Arona says. “It is sad so many have had to leave at this time, and sad we’ll miss being together the remainder of the semester. We continue to hope and pray we can fight through the pandemic.”

Arona says the support of the entire BVU family, from staff members to those at Student Success, to those who give, brings a measure of great comfort to students in need. Those gifts have already made—and will continue to make—a difference for students who are doing their best to cope as the fight presses on. The student who knows wave energy has come to appreciate a different kind of energy enveloping his beloved University.

Upon learning the news of givers who are making a difference, Arona shares a nod and says, “I know I made the right choice in coming to BVU.”