When people begin to prepare for college, there is a lot to plan for and look forward to.
Booking plane tickets, buying dorm supplies, finally meeting your first-year roommates - all of these things and more made the months leading up to the start of my first-year fly by as I excitedly prepared. Even though I knew I would be moving away from home, and living outside of my home state of Florida for the first time, I was excited for what college had in store for me. From meeting new people to starting college classes, I was excited for the four years and the opportunities that it promised to bring. In addition to all of these big changes, one of the things that I was super excited about was seasons.
I was born and raised in Florida - with the beaches, sunshine, and palm trees all around, it is not a surprise that this state is nicknamed the Sunshine State. I was used to wearing shorts and sandals basically all year long, and getting chilly as soon as the weather fell below or anywhere near 60℉. Having lived my whole life in this year-round summer, I had never seen snow before except on the insides of my freezer, or the only changing of the leaves I knew was when different flowers would begin to bloom in the spring. Hence, while I was very excited to experience different seasons, the idea of the cold made me worried about how much I would actually enjoy this. Would I be enamored with the glistening snow, or would I instead spend the winter months shivering and looking forward to going home?
As I considered all of these factors, I knew there was something I would definitely need to do - buy clothing that would help me stay warm during the winter. I had never needed a coat or winter boots before - having grown up and spent my entire life in Florida, the warmest article of clothing I owned was built for a Florida three-day winter of roughly 45℉. However, in Cambridge, MA, where the temperatures can and do fall below freezing, I knew I would need all of the warm clothing to help me make it through the winter.
Despite my worries, Harvard was able to provide me with assistance in obtaining these much-need essentials. Here at Harvard, the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI for short!) works to support students from low-income backgrounds by helping make college accessible. Specifically, money provided by the Harvard Winter Coat Fund helped make these additional expenses much easier to shoulder. The Harvard Winter Coat Fund is available for all students from families with incomes less than $65,000. For these students, Harvard provides funding that allows students to purchase any winter clothing that they may need. With this money, I was able to cover the cost of my winter coat and boots, which continue to serve me to this day.
In starting college, sometimes the things we have to plan for are the ones we didn’t even think to consider at first. However, from the Winter Coat Fund and other resources provided by Harvard for HFAI students such as myself, I know that I will always have the support I need.