Welcome to our special section, Thrive Global on Campus, devoted to covering student mental health, well-being, and redefining success from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
I was in the car traveling back to campus when an email popped up on my phone’s lock screen. The subject line read: “Lehigh moves to remote learning for remainder of academic semester.”
In an instant, multiple concerns started swirling in my head. My friends and I sighed disappointedly at the news, as if we hadn’t been anticipating it the entire week.
As a journalism major, I had some concerns that other students usually didn’t need to consider. Remote classes seemed feasible for students who were learning facts, such as math or science, but my classes are very different from typical lecture-structured courses.
My classes require me to conduct research and interviews off-campus. I can’t complete my assignments without the proper equipment, such as a DSLR camera, tripod, audio recording device, and access to a recording studio and Adobe licenses. The only item I gained access to since leaving campus was an Adobe license, but the rest weren’t available to have at home.
My first instinct was to email one of my professors and express that I wasn’t sure how the course would be able to continue online. At that point, even he wasn’t sure. He said he had no idea how it was going to continue, but he was sure that everything would be figured out.
My main worry was a PBS and NPR partnership that I am involved in. For this, I need to be in Bethlehem, the town of my university, to complete tasks for them. For the entire month prior to this news, I spent time doing research and making phone calls to organizations in an effort to gather contacts for a series I was going to create with PBS39.
I was ready and excited to return to school after spring break and use my newly acquired contacts to move forward with the series, but the entire project was halted by the transition.
Social distancing regulations, combined with the fact that I am now hours away from campus, have ended my ability to work with them. Resume opportunities, acquired contacts and endless research were all snatched in one day. Now I hold on to the opportunities I had while the partnership lasted, disappointed that I won’t be able to create more.
On the bright side of that unfortunate case, I learned skills in audio and visual storytelling in the course that I will use to document my quarantine experience.
However, that wasn’t my only derailed assignment. For my visual communications course, I had a semester-long final project highlighting a business in Bethlehem that also required my presence in the town. That project has since ended and been replaced by the idea to create vlogs that show what life is like in the time of this pandemic.
The only course that doesn’t record lectures and requires me to be timely for Zoom meetings is Leigh’s student-run publication, The Brown and White, for which I am a reporter and the deputy lifestyle editor.
Without being able to meet for two eight-hour press nights each week, I have found myself to be on-call for the paper in more ways than before. Everyone is working to create content and cover the coronavirus as much as possible. It’s definitely been interesting to see each beat, even in the lifestyle and sports sections, find different angles on stories related to the pandemic.
While the transition to online classes rearranged a majority of my syllabi, proper changes were made to meet the needs of my courses. While some opportunities were lost and some hard work was left without results, I have been given a new opportunity, using audio, film and writing, to cover what life is like under quarantine while a major pandemic spreads across the world. These new projects will provide for more historical content than anything I would have completed on campus.
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