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For Some Students, Not Having Home Wifi Means Taking Classes From Their Cars

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Alison Causey's weekdays have been like many other college students'.

ALISON CAUSEY: Having breakfast, getting ready. To be honest, I don't really dress up very much. I just try to wear something very comfortable.

SIMON: Once the 27-year-old gets into her car, she turns up the radio...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAUSEY: Late '90s, early 2000s hip-hop or pop music.

SIMON: ...For the drive through London, KY.

CAUSEY: There are farms, and they are absolutely beautiful.

SIMON: Her commute ends in a parking lot at Somerset Community College. That's where she attends class in her car.

CAUSEY: I open my laptop up and get my materials out - my pencils, my calculator, my notes, erasers, textbook, paper - you name it.

SIMON: Somerset moved its classes online in March, but since some students didn't have access to Wi-Fi at home, the school set up access points in its parking lots.

CAUSEY: They told all of us that we could not come back until COVID-19 had settled down and, you know, they had more of an idea of what the virus was at that time. I felt very frustrated. I felt panicky. I was supposed to graduate in May, and I did not know how long this pandemic was going to last. And I had worked really hard on trying to get this degree, balancing working so many hours and working multiple jobs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAUSEY: I work close to 60 hours. I deliver for a local organic farm. I tutor. I also work as an EMT at a local ambulance service. The reason why I work so much is because I have no financial help from family, so I'm having to do everything myself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAUSEY: Some of the benefits from having to work from my car - I have less distractions, so it just allows me to really focus. And the disadvantages - you're burning gas to keep your car cool. It - here in Kentucky, it becomes very humid very quickly, and it stays humid majority of the day.

It can be difficult. It can be stressful, but these connections here on campus are definitely helping me get through the pandemic 'cause I know that the instructors here care about their students, and they just - they want to see other students and myself continue to achieve their goals and to grow.

SIMON: This week, Alison Causey completed her studies at Somerset Community College. She now has an associate's (ph) degree in applied sciences. And she's not done. Working as an EMT during this time has given her new goals.

CAUSEY: I either want to earn my Ph.D. and do biomedical research or possibly go to med school, maybe go into psychiatry and help treat first responders with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, PTSD and whatnot.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CAUSEY: Knowing that I've completed this and got this degree, I feel absolutely glorious (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Alison Causey talking about taking classes in her car in the parking lot of Somerset Community College in London, Ky. Congratulations. Good luck.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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