Cassie Popplewell was well into one of the most impactful semesters of her life. The O’Neill public safety major was in Washington, D.C., with O’Neill’s Washington Leadership Program. She was thrilled to be working as an intern with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
But, once there, her excitement was soon interrupted by a family crisis. While she was 600 miles away, her mother had been placed on life support back home in Shelbyville, Indiana.
“When I received the phone call, I wasn’t sure what to do,” Popplewell recalls. “I was emotionally taxed from balancing my professional work and monitoring my mother’s health. I couldn’t focus and started struggling academically.”
Popplewell’s internship was unpaid and the flight home was expensive.
She reached out to her O’Neill advisors for advice. That’s when she learned she could apply for help from the IUPUI O’Neill School Student Emergency Fund.
The fund helps students cover the cost of unforeseen expenses such as health emergencies, sudden unemployment, unexpected housing costs or car repairs, and more. For Popplewell, it also covered the cost of a plane ticket to be by her mother’s side.
“I was able to go home and be with my mom when I didn’t know if she would make it through the night,” Popplewells says. “I was able to spend a few days with her while she was on life support and focus on my studies at the hospital.”
Her mother eventually stabilized and has since recovered. Popplewell was able to return to D.C. to successfully complete her internship. She says students who find themselves in emergency situations shouldn’t hesitate to apply for help.
“At first, I was worried because I didn’t want to take money from someone else who may need it,” she admits. “But O’Neill is a family and we are all here to take care of each other.”
Popplewell also has a message for those who may be considering contributing to the fund:
“The difference this fund makes for students is indescribable,” she says. “When emergency situations arise, it’s a relief to know you do not have to handle it alone. To those who have donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The donations you make do not go unnoticed. You are some of O’Neill’s unspoken heroes who make a difference.”
You can help students just like Cassie by donating to the IUPUI O’Neill School Student Emergency Fund at this link.