As a senior and student worker at UT Dallas, Joann Joseph BA’20 has spent the past few months e-learning, working from home and preparing for a graduation unlike any other. The literature graduate shares what her experience has been like.
I was in my dorm room when I received an email from Dr. Benson, the UT Dallas president, to students about moving classes online. This was a somewhat surreal moment since I never imagined campus closing down and only having online classes, but I understood the severity of the situation and the necessity of the precautionary measures taken.
As a student, it was initially strange to be back at home two months earlier than expected, but I have felt a certain comfort in being with family, especially during these trying times. Overall, life is a bit unusual, but I have been able to keep busy and be productive through schoolwork, job-related work, time with family, Netflix, books, music, journaling and Instagram, amongst any other activities I can concoct.
Most of the time, I have maintained good spirits by staying in touch with friends and family — even if it is sometimes just through FaceTime — and by following the account @goodnews_movement to see positive and uplifting news. It is also nice to go for a quick walk or a drive. I’ve seen people go for a walk or a jog with their families or dogs, and this simple exercise of seeing other people from a distance has been helpful in maintaining a positive outlook on life right now. I think this socially distant socialization is akin to what I have missed most about campus, walking by the Plinth with friends and strangers, and hearing live music being played.
Classes recently ended, but when they were in session, it was useful to have assignments to complete to fill up time. I had a couple of classes that were conducted via Blackboard Collaborate, but most involved completing assignments and then emailing them to professors. This process was simple but new, and I think this adjustment may have been more difficult for my professors than it was for me, since the change involved significant work on their part to alter course plans. I’m thankful for everything my professors did to keep classes together. I could not have completed this semester without them.
I was scheduled to walk the stage this week to receive my bachelor’s degree in literature, but traditional commencement ceremonies have been postponed. Originally, my plans to celebrate graduation included having dinner with family and friends. Those plans have also been postponed, though I have become increasingly aware of how grateful I am for those loved ones since the COVID-19 crisis required us to isolate.
I hope that my peers and I will be able to celebrate this important milestone together one day, but for now, I imagine that we are making the best out of this situation, looking forward to the moment when our diplomas will arrive in the mail.
Like many other students whose summer plans have changed, mine have as well. Instead of interning or working at an on-site job, I anticipate that I will enjoy the summer reading, spending time with family, working from home and looking forward to starting my MBA at UT Dallas this coming fall semester.
Although the world appears turbulent and upended, I hope that people are pushing through and staying healthy the best way that they know how, keeping in mind that we will get through this.