Sophomore Serenity Frazier with her new computer
School of Music junior Hope Patrick calls her new laptop a “miracle.”
A music therapy major who opted for almost 100% remote classes this fall semester, she lost her summer job due to the COVID-19 health emergency. There wasn’t any room in her budget to upgrade her outdated computer for something that could handle an entire semester online.
Then the UofL “Keys to Success” program in the Student Success Center invited her to apply to receive a free, brand-new Dell laptop. Along with hundreds of other undergraduates who qualified, she picked up her computer this week in the Belknap Academic Building.
Hope Patrick, a junior in the School of Music.
“When I first received the email about the program, I couldn’t believe it,” Patrick said. “It was like someone was listening, someone heard me and so many others hoping for a miracle. I was so worried about this semester for many reasons. I opted to be almost entirely remote this semester, taking 19.5 credit hours. The laptop I had was several years old and was purchased refurbished. It was glitchy and frustrating. I was so stressed out wondering how this semester was going to go and if my laptop was going to decide to stop working one morning leaving me with no way to finish my course work.”

With the learning environment leaning heavily on online classes since the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, UofL purchased 700 Dell laptops to give away to qualifying students. Classes at UofL for the fall semester have either converted to entirely online or are a “hybrid” model, a combination of online and in-person.

“This the first time we’ve been able to anticipate technology needs,” said Provost Beth Boehm. “Spring’s swift pivot to remote learning made it clear that the digital gap is real, and so we wanted our students to have the technology necessary to do all the work in a hybrid or online environment.” 

Freshmen and incoming/transfer students with the greatest financial need were the first to be offered an invitation to apply for the free Dell 3300 13-inch laptop equipped with webcam, microphone and speakers. The Student Success Center will expand invitations to continuing second- and third-year students in the next phase.

Serenity Frazier, a sophomore transfer student who is majoring in nursing, said it was going to be hard to get as much screen time as she needed with only one computer at home. She picked up her “Keys to Success” laptop this week.

“It means a lot to me because I’ve got the technology at home but my mom has to use it for work,” Frazier said. “My laptop broke so to have my own now means a lot. This makes it easier for kids who don’t have the resources at home who would have had to go to the library.”

Natalie Uhl in the Office of Communications and Marketing contributed to this article.