The quick move from traditional in-classroom learning to remote learning for the start of Spring Quarter meant that many Bates Technical College students wouldn’t have the financial resources to access their courses and succeed.

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates recently awarded free laptops to more than 30 low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander students, providing an important tool to help them earn their degree.

OCA began mailing laptops to the students, ensuring they won’t be left behind as remote learning progresses through Spring Quarter.

In April, OCA began mailing laptops to the students, ensuring they won’t be left behind as remote learning progresses through Spring Quarter.

Student with laptop
“I was shocked when I was notified that I won a laptop, but excited as well as it will be a great resource throughout my nursing program at Bates Technical College,” said student Mike Valdez

Practical Nurse program student Mike Valdez was surprised to learn he was one of the students who received a laptop.

“As a first-generation student, I understand how difficult it is to find ways to pay for educational expenses,” said Valdez. “I was shocked when I was notified that I won a laptop, but excited as well as it will be a great resource throughout my nursing program at Bates Technical College. I admire and support your organization’s mission to promote the social, political, and economic health of Asian Pacific Americans.”

Upon graduation, Valdez pledged to donate to scholarship funds dedicated to helping Asian Pacific Americans.

I am incredibly thankful to OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates for this generous donation…

“I am incredibly thankful to OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates for this generous donation, which helps ensure the current situation doesn’t upend these students’ studies,” said Bates Technical College President Dr. Lin Zhou. “Providing laptops is a tangible way we can make difference in their lives right now. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts their learning, this donation provides the technology they need to be successful and keep moving forward toward their educational goals,” said Zhou.

Waiting lists for students who need laptops continues to grow, as the college foundation raises funds to purchase additional computers for students.

With nearly 50 percent of Bates students relying on financial assistance to pursue their studies, many of whom are low-income and without personal computers, there is a large need for devices among students trying to continue their studies under this new modality. Waiting lists for students who need laptops continues to grow, as the college foundation raises funds to purchase additional computers for students.

Executive Director of OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates Rita Pin Ahrens said, “As part of OCA’s mission to empower and advance AAPIs, connecting first-generation and low-income AAPI students to resources became one of our top priorities in response to COVID-19,” said Pin Ahrens.

“This pandemic has greatly emphasized the digital divide, but we are proud to have partnered with the Walmart Foundation to work towards reducing this divide for college students across the country so they can continue their education online,” said Pin Ahrens.

The students who received the laptops from OCA met certain criteria, said Vice President of Instruction Valerie Martinez. “From a list of current students who were categorized as Asian American Pacific Islander, and using the OCA criteria for selection, we filtered the list by financial need, which students were enrolled full time, then filtered the list by programs where the integration of technology requires exclusive use of computers and specialized software,” said Martinez.

To learn more about resources from OCA – Asian American Advocates, please go to https://www.ocanational.org/oca-covid19-home.

For more information about the Bates Technical College, visit BatesTech.edu or call 253.680.7000. To donate to the Bates Foundation laptop fund, go to BatesTech.edu/Foundation.