U-ACCESS, more formally known as the Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services, helps UMass Boston students meet their day-to-day needs so that they can succeed in the classroom. From an on-campus food pantry to free legal counseling, U-ACCESS offers a variety of services to fight systemic poverty and empower students to reach their academic goals. Over the course of years, U-ACCESS has touched the lives of many students coming from all walks of life. In this story, we highlight a few of the students U-ACCESS has been able to help this year.

Andria is a graduate student studying creative writing fiction as well as teaching Intro to Creative Writing. She completed her undergraduate at East Tennessee State University before coming to UMass Boston to continue her studies. When she got to UMass Boston, she realized she was not getting the financial aid she thought she was and things got tough. Quickly she found herself missing bill payments and having less to eat; that’s when she found U-ACCESS. Andria uses the food pantry so that she can put more money towards other things like bill payments. In her words, the food pantry gives her “one less thing to worry about.” Andria still uses U-ACCESS services to this day, and she hopes that her students will feel comfortable to do the same. As Andria says, “Money affects everything. You can’t worry about your assignments when you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from.”

Mimi is an undergraduate student studying human services as she hopes to go on to work in human resources. When she was 12, she moved from Haiti to Boston with her mom and dad. Throughout high school she always wanted to come to UMass Boston, but she ended up at Bunker Hill Community College and Newbury College first. Now, she’s a senior and working as a pantry specialist at U-ACCESS. Mimi says she didn’t know about U-ACCESS before she got the job, but makes use of the resources now: “I used to starve to save money to buy a bus pass.” She says that she no longer has to make these tough decisions. “What I want to share with everybody is that U-ACCESS is a great opportunity for us to be successful at school and not have to stress so much,” she notes.

Nasiba is a PhD student seeking her doctorate in linguistics. She has two children, a 9-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl. She is from Uzbekistan, and is constantly faced with the struggles posed by high living expenses in Boston. However, she believes staying in school despite the financial hardship is the best way to give her family a good future. A friend told her about U-ACCESS, which she says makes life in Boston possible. She notes that her children are always excited to see a piece of fresh fruit come home in a grocery bag. U-ACCESS helps Nasiba succeed in school so she can succeed for her family!

If you or someone you know is looking for help to meet your basic needs, please visit the U-ACCESS office at Campus Center 2401 or email u-access@umb.edu. U-ACCESS is always open to donations, from non-perishable food items to feminine care items. If you are interested in donating, you can drop off your donations in their office in the Campus Center.

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