UC Riverside student finds support amid family and housing hardships

Riverside, California, September 2018 – Life was tough during Jezel’s last year of high school; her six older siblings had left home, and she and her mother were living in a Los Angeles homeless shelter. But a year later, life was looking up. Jezel had become a University of California, Riverside student, an Economics/Administrative Studies major on track to be the first of seven siblings to graduate from college.

But then Jezel’s mother, a single parent, became ill. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with lung cancer, and died a month later. While mourning her mother’s sudden death Jezel went into a tailspin. She struggled with her grades and finances, and fell behind on the rent. Luckily, the then 18-year-old resident of Stonehaven — an EAH Housing community for UC Riverside students in Riverside, Calif. — connected with Thuy, a helpful EAH assistant resident manager.

Thuy helped Jezel secure an emergency university loan so she could keep her apartment. “I just walked into the office and talked to Thuy personally, heart to heart, and we worked it out,” says Jezel. “Thuy calmed my fears; she’s an angel.”

While her mother was sick, Jezel traveled nearly every day to Los Angeles to visit her in the hospital. It was a round trip by bus and train of nearly 120 miles. “My mother loved me so much,” she says. “She always made sure I knew I was loved.” After her mother’s death, even while struggling, she was determined to finish college. “All the years of schooling that my mom made sure I went through, I wasn’t going to just stop,” she says. “That would have disappointed her.”

Now a junior, Jezel has shared one of Stonehaven’s 200 student apartments with a roommate for two years. She looks forward to graduating in 2019 and going to work as an accountant. “I’ve been going through tough times here, but Stonehaven staff members always understand,” she says. “That’s one positive thing I’ll always appreciate. It’s the highlight of my years here.”

Stonehaven gives Jezel an affordable foundation for her life as a college student. “I love living at Stonehaven,” says Jezel. “It has a really homey vibe to it. Honestly, I don’t understand why students would want to live anywhere else, because Stonehaven has the best prices and the best quality.” That stability has helped Jezel settle in; when she thinks of her mother now, it’s a comfort.