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GWU Sophomore Appreciates Faculty and Staff Helping her Navigate These Challenging Times
GWU Student Bailey Reep

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.--When sophomore Bailey Reep learned that Gardner-Webb University was changing to exclusive online delivery to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, she thought about the poor internet connection at her home in Cherryville, N.C. It would make finishing the semester at home difficult for her, but how would GWU officials respond to her problem?

She contacted the Office of the Dean of Students and explained her situation. "I have technology restrictions where I live," Reep said. "When I reached out to Gardner-Webb about this issue, they were proactive in making sure that I was allowed back on campus with the correct materials and safety measures possible. My professors quickly posted the course material and words of encouragement to all of us students. I cannot thank Gardner-Webb enough for all they have done, as well as Dr. Downs (GWU President) and his staff."

John Johnson, director of Housing and Residence Education, processed Reep's request in less than 24 hours. Other students staying on campus also have technology needs, and some ask to stay because they are student-athletes, international students, or they have internships or transportation limitations. "We are members of a community whose desire is to provide our students with a positive University experience," Johnson affirmed. "This dedication is all the more important during these uncertain times."

An elementary education major, Reep hopes to make a positive impact on future generations. "All of my education professors are friendly and eager to help," Reep said. "It is as if we are all one big family in the School of Education, where everyone encourages each other. The classes help prepare us to be the best future educators, and the material and content we learn make it exciting to become one."

While the professors have stayed in touch online, the GWU staff has made sure Reep is safe and following Coronavirus physical distancing orders. "The cafeteria staff has been nothing but a blessing," she informed. "Each time I have gone into The Caf, they have taken extra precautions to make sure each person is exactly 6 feet away from each other, that the food is prepackaged, and hand sanitizer is available. They have been nothing but generous and nice when interacting with the students and in making sure the food is healthy and nutritious."

Because of the care and concern shown to her daughter, Rena Reep, Bailey's mom, sent an email to GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. "I just want to say thank you to all your staff and for all you are doing for these students," Ms. Reep related. "... our internet is horrible, and there would be no way she would be able to do this without you letting her stay on campus. Seeing all libraries are closed and places where she would, if she were home, go and have WiFi that works well, she would not be able to do this. She loves her campus, and she loves her professors and everything GWU has to offer. Thank you also to the workers in The Caf who are seeing that the students are being fed and well taken care of. From a parent who is so glad her daughter chose such a caring, exceptional place to get her degree, I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Reep is also blessed that one of her friends is among those approved to stay on campus. When they are not studying, they spend time outdoors--running, sitting on the lawn or playing volleyball--while adhering to physical distancing policies. "Even though I cannot be with my family right now, I have been able to still feel at home here at Gardner-Webb," Reep observed. "I believe from this experience, I have learned to adjust to whatever the future holds. When presented with unusual circumstances, I have learned to trust in God that everything will work out."

Submitted by Jackie Bridges

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