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A sudden end to senior spring

I’m a senior at Duke University set to graduate in May. I grew up in NH and attended the Derryfield School before leaving for college.

I was in Colombia with six friends when COVID-19 infections started to ramp up. Throughout the week, we saw them first push back the end of spring break to a week later, then move classes online, and then bar people from returning to campus at all.

I know that the university took the steps it did in that order because they wanted to preserve what they could of the year while also taking into account student safety, but dragging out the closing down process almost made it more difficult to come to terms with the sudden end to senior spring.

Following this, many seniors had to return home without ever having said goodbye to the people and the place that made up their undergraduate college experience.

This created psychological challenges coupled with the academic challenges that came with the sudden shift to online learning. I think that all college students, not just the seniors, had to deal with a significant amount of emotional stress.

Luckily, the staff and administration really did their best to take this into account. The pandemic created its own set of difficulties but within my spheres it unveiled a definitive ability to adapt that I’m not sure would have been otherwise noticeable.

Professors have been a lot more forgiving this semester when it comes to deadlines and class attendance. For one service-learning class, we wrote letters to the residents we had been visiting when the in-person experience was cut short. For another class, my professor adjusted in-person office hours to phone/email office hours where she sat in front of her computer for an hour to see whether any questions came in.

On the social side of things, I attended birthdays and happy hours on Zoom. My friends and I could send each other links to games online we could play together. If anything, it made it a little easier to actually make it to all of the social engagements in a week because I could do it all from my home.

While COVID-19 has created what feels at this time to be hopeless, everlasting physical barriers, it has also broken down a number of academic and social barriers. My hope for the future, when these physical barriers finally are no longer necessary, would be for us to re-examine how we approach education and connection. I hope that we can still maintain a certain degree of the flexibility exhibited during this crisis when life goes back to ‘normal’.

WRITTEN BY Liz Krogman


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