Navigating the new normal
A student’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic
When marketing major Long Vang ’21 returned mid-March from spring break, he found that St. Scholastica had changed drastically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In just one week, the College had transitioned from an on-campus living and learning environment to a remote learning community.
In the weeks since the transition to online learning, faculty, staff and students have adapted to many changes. Students like Vang had to adjust to a new way of living, studying and working by relying largely on technology. For instance, Zoom, a video conferencing program, has become the new standard for class sessions and meetings.
“The biggest challenge was following a new, different schedule, which meant that I had to plan out when I would be Zooming class, doing homework and having time to myself in one remote area,” said Vang.
While the College requested that most students leave campus in response to social distancing guidelines, Vang was one of a few dozen students who received special permission to remain.
Vang believes that St. Scholastica does a great job in offering resources for all students. The network of support, including professors, staff and student employment supervisors, have made the adjustment much easier, he said.
“My professors were supportive and encouraged all students to attend Zoom meetings. They also sent emails with positive messages to help us strive through this time,” Vang said. “My supervisors from Residential Life and the Marketing and Communications Department check in on their student interns, and are having staff meetings to keep us in touch virtually. Having these people in my life right now is beneficial and amazing.”
The College’s guiding Benedictine values have become even more evident during this pandemic. Vang has seen the values of community, respect, stewardship, hospitality and love of learning being demonstrated in innovative ways.
“The Student Government Association has set aside a fund for students in financial crises, and are willing to meet and help advocate for students in need of help,” said Vang. “In addition, the College has cultivated classes online for students to continue their love of learning. I think it’s amazing as most universities can’t teach all of their classes virtually.”
St. Scholastica has a long history of creating innovative educational delivery methods. The College has offered distance learning options for more than 20 years.
Although isolated and practicing physical distancing, Vang has found ways to communicate, connect with family and friends and stay active. Through Zoom, Twitch and other platforms, he’s able to call, stream, video chat and play games with family and friends from around the world.
“I have class Zoom meetings and after all of that is over I stream online in hopes of making other people’s days better during this time,” Vang said. “I play games online with students on campus and I also stream on Twitch to allow people globally to tune in if they are bored at home.”
What’s next? This summer Vang plans to remain living on-campus, continue his internships and take remote classes. And when the virtual world becomes too much, he plans to spend time outdoors.