Ali Lazik thought that being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and needing hand surgery would be the worst thing to happen to her art career.
She was wrong.
Lazik, a graduate student studying studio art, says that the two weeks she spent recovering this past September were the most “stress-free” of her collegiate career, complete with extra time to focus on her art.
This is because for the first time since entering her graduate program, Lazik was able to take time off from her part-time job at Michael’s Craft Store.
And she says this made a huge difference.
“It was the most stress-free I’ve felt in years,” Lazik said. “It’s sad that I was looking forward to hand surgery so that I could have a break. It felt so good to just focus on school. It was nice while it lasted.”
UB’s graduate program pays for Lazik’s tuition and a biweekly stipend of a little under $700 for her living expenses. She says this barely covers her rent and car payment.
Everything else is up to Lazik to cover, including the $1,600 in fees from UB every semester.
For other living expenses that her stipend doesn’t cover, like groceries, Lazik has gotten creative to save money.
“I will literally drive to three different stores if I think another store will have something I need cheaper,” Lazik said. “I’m kind of just doing whatever I need to do to get by.”
Lazik doesn’t think her financial situation is fair or a proper reflection of the work she puts into her studies.
“I teach Drawing 204, that’s what UB pays me to do,” Lazik said. “I don’t just get the money for no reason. But between my part-time to afford groceries, my teaching job to graduate and my classes, I’m really anxious. Balancing this schedule alone is a lot of stress.”
Lazik believes that receiving a stipend over the summer would help graduate students achieve financial stability through the academic year.
“If we got the stipend over the summer that would help a lot,” Lazik said. “I was supposed to teach a summer course and get paid but not enough students enrolled. Since I didn’t get paid all summer, it’s been really hard. I’ve been waiting for each paycheck.”
Kayla Estrada is a senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Estrada is the opinion editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.