How the Rust Opportunity Assistance Fund is Helping CNM Students Succeed

The fund provides money to students who are facing unforeseen financial hardships
October 06, 2020

Elizabeth Gibson was in a bind this summer. She owed over $100 on a utility bill but wasn’t able to pay because her job with the census has been put on hold as a result of COVID-19. She was also waiting on disability, but her case was stuck in the courts.

Without her utility paid, Elizabeth wouldn’t be able to take her online CNM classes and was just weeks from finishing. Luckily, she heard about the Rust Opportunity Assistance Fund and applied. She was granted an award and used the money to pay her bill. 

“I was definitely stressed because as a former financial advisor, I know that once you get behind on your bills, it’s really hard to come back,” Elizabeth says. “Receiving the Rust money was a huge relief and I’m really glad I reached out.” 

The Rust fund was designed to help students with unexpected expenses and emergencies that might otherwise prevent them from completing their courses and it’s available to all CNM students. The application period is currently open and the money received can be used for many different expenses including everything from medical bills to rent.

Thanks to the Rust fund money, Elizabeth was able to graduate in August with her Community Health Worker certificate. She’s about to get an assistance dog and plans to start as a health worker sometime in the coming months.

It’s been a long and important journey for her getting to this point. A couple years back, Elizabeth suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in her house, which affected everything from her cognitive skills to her communication. She was also a victim of domestic violence and suffered a head injury.

After losing her job at a bank as a result of her injuries, Elizabeth says it was the community health workers who helped her most on her slow road to recovery. She then came across the Community Health Worker program at CNM and decided to enroll.

She took online classes for the certificate because she lives in Santa Fe and wasn’t able to be in a classroom setting, but felt supported and encouraged throughout.

“The online classes were really robust and I got a great education,” she says. “That, and the faculty were amazing and my fellow students were incredible.”

Elizabeth was so impressed, in fact, that she’s still taking extra classes at CNM that will help her as a health worker. She’s grateful for a new career, and grateful that she received the support she needed to keep going.

“Everything that CNM has done for me has made a huge difference,” she says.