University Entities Offer Varied Support to Students

University Entities Offer Varied Support to Students

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a seismic shift in everyone’s routine. At the University of San Diego, the changes on campus are most noticeable with students leaving campus to prepare for online instruction provided by faculty members on March 23.

While USD will deliver its education virtually, different units on campus shared with USD News Center what they’re doing to assist students during this transition.

Associated Students Government

"We have been in contact with the administration to ensure that student voices are thought about when deciding on any actions that USD will make," Associated Students Government President Marion Chavarria Rivera said this week. "This ranges from how long we can allow for students to get off campus, using our trams to take students to the airport and train stations, and figuring out how to best distribute information to students."

That strong show of support came from ASG senators last week. "Senators voted to re-allocate its remaining usable funds to support Student Affairs supporting students withhardships due to paying for tickets to fly home, food insecurity and aiding the university in providing laptops/iPads for students for their online education needs," Rivera said.

Office of Financial Aid

Kellie Nehring, director of USD's Office of Financial Aid, said her office is working remotely. She said, "The Office of Financial Aid will continue to respond to student and parent questions via email ( within 24-48 business hours. For both the current academic year and next academic year, we will continue to load FASFA data, process financial aid files and read appeals. For the time being, we will continue to process incoming mail."


Classes were cancelled on campus March 14-22 to focus on the relocation of students, either back home or arranging off-campus housing arrangements. The initial USD-imposed March 22 deadline was updated March 17 with a new order by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to have no student gatherings at universities, which includes residence halls. The move prompted the COVID-19 Action Team to urgestudents to move off campus as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, USD faculty members this week are training for thestart of remote teaching, beginning March 23. Some USD degree programs already run as an online entity, but the majority of undergraduate, graduate and law courses will have all faculty using tools such as Blackboard and Zoom.

"USD's ITS (Information Technology Services) team is doing a phenomenal job of helping everyone move to this new modality," said Kroc School of Peace Studies Dean Patricia Marquez in a school communication this week.

In addition to classes resuming virtually next week, a few events will happen virtually, too.

USD-based The Brink Small Business Development Center will present its San Diego Angel Conference on Saturday, March 28. It has gone from a day-long live event to a virtual experience for its six finalists.

After closely monitoring the situation and with careful consideration, the 2020 conference will continue as an interactive, online program in order to minimize risks to health and safety,” said a statement on the San Diego Angel Conference website.  We’re adjusting (ticket) prices accordingly and condensing the six-hour, in-person event to a two-hour digital experience that will be just as insightful and inspiring. Times like these require innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. With over $320,000 already committed to the fund and due diligence in full gear for our six finalists, we remain determined to power innovation and economic impact in our region.

Another annual event that will now be a virtual presence is Research Week at USD, which takes place from April 20-24. Plans for specific events to be shown virtually are still being finalized, Traci Merrill, director of the Office for Sponsored Programs, said.

Copley Library

While USD's Copley Library is closed as of March 19, a variety of services can be acquired remotely. The library has posted an updated webpage for all things to assist the campus community at this time. 

University Ministry

University Ministry is at the heart of the institution’s mission. At a time when even being together in church for Mass has been cancelled per a statement by the local diocese, the Office of Mission and Ministry wants to students to have ample connection to faith resources.

If interested in a one-on-one virtual check-in with a University Ministry staff member, please sign up here. To sign up to be part of a weekly online small group (via Zoom), sign up with this form. To receive weekly email reflections from University Ministry, sign up here.

"As we move forward as a USD community spread throughout the world, we have some invitations for you," said a letter statement to University Ministry-connected students. "We know you are very much still in transition, and so these will remain open invitations. But we want you to know that we are with you, walking with you, across the time zones and in the messiness and the darkness."

University Ministry also expressed support for students’ emotional wellbeing during this uncertainty and anxiety, referring them to the You are USD webpage. USD Counseling offers confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (619) 260-4655.

Career Development Center

The Career Development Center, in light of COVID-19 and how it has changed the landscape at the present time, has put measures in place to assure the safety of students and alumni as well as the center’s team, while still supporting students as they navigate successful career exploration and connections. To comply with social distancing practices, the center is providing all of its services, including career counseling appointments, via virtual and phone options.

Career Readiness Programs (Passport, Compass and Connect): Seniors concerned about completing Passport or Compass points before graduation should contact Abbey Racelisor Isela Reyes. They will provide students with individualized plans to complete their requirements.

Career Counseling: The center’s team can meet with students and alumni virtually and over the phone. A core team is present daily in Manchester Hall in the main office to address questions or concerns. Schedule an appointment at

On-Campus Recruitment: On-campus interviews, events and information sessions have been moved to virtual format when possible. If not possible, events have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. For updates, go to

Jobs and Internships on Handshake: USD's platform currently has more than 25,000 approved employers from around the United States posting both jobs and internships. Students and alumni should go to to apply for positions representing all types of functions and industries.

Mentorship, Advice and TEAM: USD's online platform for mentorship and networking, TEAM helps students have meaningful conversations exploring career paths. This easy-to-use tool connects alumni, parents, students and friends of Toreros in one place. Go to to register.

Technology Resources: Go to to find online career resources to support students 24/7 in the job and internship search process. Career exploration, major exploration, interview practice, domestic and international internship and job opportunities, networking/mentorship resources and more are online.

Summer Internship Award: This award supports eligible undergraduate USD students participating in meaningful summer internships, undergraduate research or career-related community service. This isn’t a replacement for wages, but rather is intended to offset living, transportation or other expenses associated with participating in a summer internship. Students granted this award can receive up to $5,000 (three payments). Applications at:

"During this period of uncertainty, know that students can count on the Career Development team," Senior Director Robin Darmon said. Call (619) 260-4654 or email

Professional and Continuing Education

By already offering programs online, this is one USD entity that can handle things in a business-as-usual manner virtually.

"In PCE we're uniquely positioned to continue the vast majority of our courses, certificates and degree programs as they are offered online. We're focused on providing exceptional learning opportunities and student support during this difficult time," said Brandon Gregory, interim senior director for PCE.

PCE did state that the best way to reach the enrollment and student services team members is via email,, due to limited staffing because of COVID-19.

Annual Giving

Additional student financial support is always welcome from those ina position to do so.

"As USD continues to navigate the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, many people in our community have reached out to ask what they can do to support students adversely affected during this time. If you would like to support students who are in financial need as a result of the coronavirus, we ask that you make a gift to the Students in Need Fund," said Jessie Szumski, associate director for the Office of Annual Giving.

"Year-round, this fund is used as emergency support for students as needed. However, due to the current pandemic, we are experiencing increased demand from students who need help affording alternative housing and covering food costs once they are relocated. Gifts to the Students in Need Fund will directly impact our most vulnerable students at this time."

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone

The Career Development Center has many ways in which students can still utilize its services while away from campus. Check out the list of services offered online or by phone.The Career Development Center has many ways in which students can still utilize its services while away from campus. Check out the list of services offered online or by phone.

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