Posted on: April 5, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Wendy McKee

JRN 111 Student

Shaking with nerves, students at Moraine Valley worry for the stability of their jobs.

Many Moraine Valley students pay for their own tuition and transport to the college. With the coronavirus crisis keeping everyone home, students are losing income. Due to their age, many students work in food service–as baristas, cashiers, servers, or cooks–and most of them rely on tips from customers rather than the actual pay itself.

“I absolutely rely on tips more than my actual pay itself,” says nursing major Tianna Chlada, 20, who works as a server at Gatto’s, a family-owned restaurant in Orland Park and Tinley Park. “My paychecks are only about $20 every two weeks, so without my tips, I would be making literally nothing.”

I think the hardest part about losing my job was that I have no idea when the end is near.”

According to an article by Connie Lin at Fast Company, 10.4 percent of Illinoisans will lose their jobs to COVID-19. Nevada is the worst state, where 14.2 percent of people will lose their jobs.

To help students who have lost jobs, one thing Moraine Valley has done is create a Student Emergency Fund. Students and professors can click onto the link and donate to students who desperately need the funds: As much as a dollar can help a student in need, organizers say.

One student who was not able to keep her job is 18-year-old Jessica Alcordo, a freshman majoring in communications. Alcordo has worked at the restaurant the White Sheep since its opening day in August 2019.

Like Chlada, she said she relies heavily on tips: “Servers make an hourly wage of $5.50, so my checks after taxes aren’t much. We really rely on people tipping well to make enough to support ourselves.”

Alcordo loves her job and is deeply saddened about her current employment situation.

“I think the hardest part about losing my job was that I have no idea when the end is near,” she says. “I’m really hopeful that it’s sooner than I think, but I’m fortunate enough to live at home and not pay rent. I have enough in my savings to get me through monthly payments for now, but if this goes on longer, then I may have to find another way to make money.”

The restaurant is closed indefinitely and has caused the same sort of problems for all of Alcordo’s co-workers.

Chlada is one of the fortunate ones who did not lose her job, although her hours have drastically changed. During busy weekend nights, the restaurant would have up to nine servers, two bartenders, and a manager.

 “Now with the pandemic, we have a manager and two servers, so the amount of shifts available to work decreased and the amount of tips coming in drastically decreased because we are only doing curbside pick-up and we aren’t allowed to pick up shifts,” she says. “We are assigned about two shifts for the week and everyone has to equally rotate.”

Chlada, who has been working at Gatto’s for two and a half years, talks about how she loves her job, her co-workers, and her managers, and says the restaurant works around everyone’s schedules to make things fair.

She pays her own college tuition and her own transport to college, though her parents pay for her car insurance. However, she isn’t too scared about her job right now as she is still able to work those two days.

Other students are also dealing with having their hours moved around or their paychecks cut.

Payton Millhouse, a 23-year-old sophomore at Moraine Valley, works full-time at a Mercedes garage in Orland Hills. The pandemic has left him with fewer hours, but more stress.

 “I’m happy to be considered essential and still have my job and its benefits, but it is quite stressful still as I have had my hours cut 25 percent, and many of my coworkers have been laid off, increasing my workload for each day,” Millhouse said. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s still worth coming in everyday, knowing I’m working harder for less money than I was earning prior to this pandemic, but then I remember all of those who have lost their jobs and I realize I’m lucky to still be working.

“Management has told us that if it continues to get slower, the rest of my department will be laid off, which does worry me.”

Millhouse is still paying off his student loans to the school he attended previously as well as his tuition at Moraine Valley, but he says, “with student loan payments suspended and car payments deferred, I’m not too stressed about not having money to pay bills.”

Some students are applying for unemployment. Nicole Manuel, a 20-year-old sophomore studying business management, has been working at Crystal Tree Country Club for about two years. Due to the pandemic, Manuel and her co-workers have had to apply for unemployment and she is looking for a temporary job as she splits the cost of her car payments and her tuition with her parents.

“I first applied for unemployment because that way I’d have some income coming in while I looked for temporary jobs,” she says.

Another student who has had to deal with this is 19-year-old Kelly Murray, a sophomore studying accounting who has worked in a dental lab creating crowns and implants for people’s teeth. Murray hasn’t been in her workplace since March 20 and is not sure when she will be back.

“At first it wasn’t a big deal because sometimes my work is slow and I work very little hours, but now I’m getting worried I won’t be getting any money anytime soon,” she says. “But honestly, I’m not that worried right now because I live at home and I have money in my savings account. But if things don’t change soon, then I will start to worry.”

Even though these times are stressful and students may be worried about their tuition, late fees, and scholarships, Moraine Valley is helping students during this pandemic.

The college states on its website, “Because of current financial hardships some students are experiencing, late fees will not be applied this semester.”

Although there are no late fees, to register for summer or fall courses, you will have to pay your full tuition balance first. Summer priority registration for current students begins April 6; fall priority registration begins April 13.

Students who simply cannot afford the basics should contact a counselor for help by emailing

Patti Friend, director of Alumni and Annual Programs, encourages people to donate to the Student Emergency Fund so that fellow students don’t have to go through even tougher times during this pandemic. She points out that we should be inspired to help by those who are on the front lines: “Our medical professionals are risking their lives to help others and front line workers in service industries are keeping the world moving.  These people are heroes and it’s so inspiring.”

To apply for scholarships, Friend says, students should go to the Moraine Valley website.

“Under the Cost and Aid tab…click on scholarships and then APPLY,” she says. “It only takes about 30 minutes but includes a 500 word essay that is an extremely important part of the application, so students should try really hard to write the best essay possible describing their personal need or challenges and dreams.”

Wendy McKee can be reached at