Over the past year, many TMCC students reported that they experienced “poor or terrible” internet in surveys that were administered in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. Many students are still working and learning online, and now more than ever a strong internet connection is vital to their success in higher education.
TMCC recently received support dedicated for connectivity from Google that funded 50 new hotspot devices, as well as 12 months of connectivity, for long-term check out at no charge to students. The devices offer unlimited data and were shipped to students who live outside of the Reno area. Five of the devices will be used to support students in TMCC’s Summer Bridge program, an immersive program for first-generation college students for eight weeks from the end of June through August.
"Through our investments in Nevada, we hope to help bring reliable internet access to those in need," said Kate Franko, Google's Regional Head of Public Affairs. "We're happy to learn that students of TMCC's Summer Bridge Program who might not have access to reliable internet will now be able to utilize a hotspot to help them with critical school work."
Summer Bridge students were notified via email about the availability of the hotspot devices and quickly several devices were either checked out or on hold for students.
“The 50 hotspots and 12 months of connectivity are a huge relief to our students. Many face considerable barriers that include the challenges of being a first-generation student or balancing a full-time job with their academic goals. The availability of this additional support will enable our students to access online resources as they need them in order to succeed. I’m so thrilled for what this sponsorship with Google will mean to our students,” said TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom.
Many Summer Bridge students are saying that the hotspots are already having a positive impact on their ability to do their work, lessening the amount of stress they are experiencing.
“Recruiting for the Summer Bridge program this year was different than in years past because students are now facing more barriers due to COVID-19 than they had in the past,” said Jennifer Zarco, Coordinator for the Success First Summer Bridge Program. “For example, some wanted to participate, but they are working full time, did not have access to a laptop or computer, did not have reliable internet at home, or had to take care of their siblings. TMCC has helped to eliminate some of those barriers by providing access to laptops, providing information about jobs on campus, and providing access to hotspots so that they could successfully complete their online courses and homework. I know that the Google Hotspot was the difference between participating in the program or not for one student who did not have the internet at home.”