HPS 66th Annual Meeting

Phoenix, Arizona
July 25th-29th 2021

Single Session

[Schedule Grid]

MAM-A - Special Session: Pandemic Experiences Part 2

North 221ABC   11:00 - 12:00

MAM-A.1   11:00  From Daily Travel to the Home Office AJ Kent*, University of Michigan ; An Kent

Abstract: I was a community college student tutoring all in person every day, I transferred to University of Michigan and am amidst my 4th year in higher education. The pandemic that is Sars-CoV-2 has really taught us a lot. Though at the start I spent many a sleepless night trying to comprehend the gravity of a situation of this scale, I have grown to accept it and understand what is required of me in a global pandemic. In my junior year of high school, I was diagnosed with cancer, I made the transition to doing online classes in a separate school as I was unable to go to the “normal” school system during my chemo treatment. I spent many nights sitting at home and doing nothing feeling like I had missed out on the opportunities that everyone else got in high school. I missed opportunities such as learning to make adult friends and a senior year of high school. When I transferred to community college my life felt like it was getting better. I was still doing chemotherapy, but I could go to classes and I even got a job as a math tutor by the suggestion of my math professor. I was able to make good grades and improve my life learning to make friends as an adult and I really grew to love community college. In my final year of Community College, I got the opportunity to go to UM for research, I participated in nuclear sciences research and fell in love. When I transferred to UM, I was able to go to classes for almost a semester until the pandemic hit. It was a life changing experience to watch as I stayed in my apartment in downtown Ann Arbor, seeing all my friends move out, leaving myself alone in a 5-bedroom apartment. I learned how lonely it is to live by yourself and ended up moving back in with my parents far from my school. When the pandemic first started, I could not help but feel like I was again being robbed of my college experience. It seems I may never be able to enjoy a normal school life as some may describe it. Though I felt robbed during the pandemic I learned many lessons about myself. One of the biggest lessons to come from my experience is the fact that you can never plan from your ideal, you must always plan from the point you are at now. From missing certain classes to proceed in my studies to needing to slow down in my class selections due to online schooling we have faced many challenges. I find working online brings it’s own extra work and thus everything seems to take longer than it once did.

MAM-A.2   11:05  Pandemic Experiences of a Lower-Division Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences College Student CJ Stewart*, University of Michigan

Abstract: In the middle of my second semester freshman year, the University of Michigan shut down classes and moved fully online. I moved back home without fully moving out of my dorm room and then spent about 2 months straight indoors. As the next semester encroached, I returned to Ann Arbor because of a lease that I had signed pre-pandemic and prepared for a fully online semester. My experience that semester was mixed. Focusing on classes, lectures, and homework became noticeably more challenging. Doing my work in the same spot where I watch Netflix does not lead to the most productive time. However, my sleep schedule was as good as it has ever been during a school year and I could effectively choose the pacing for my classes. Later in that school year, I received an in-person position at a lab. All of the safety training was online and I have yet to meet the professor in person. After I arrived on campus and went to the lab, I found myself only ever interacting with one other person. That is not to say that this is a negative. Working on my own has been amazing and I could not imagine or want a different workspace.

MAM-A.3   11:10  A perspective from a PhD candidate/mom in 2020: A tale of canceled and delayed plans, Zoom meetings, virtual school, and late nights DM Montgomery*, Clemson University

Abstract: It was mid-March, Friday the 13th to be exact, when it all “hit the fan” in South Carolina. My son was supposed to go to the Georgia Aquarium with his second grade class, I was supposed to chaperone. The field trip was, of course, canceled. Neither he or my daughter went back to school in person after that Friday, it was closed due to COVID. Like many, our entire lives and schedules changed drastically in the wake of the pandemic. Almost everything in my planner was to be canceled or moved to virtual platforms. My main focus shifted from trying to finish my last bit of lab work, data analysis, and compiling/writing my dissertation to virtual schooling my kids with a satellite internet connection that was barely sufficient for checking email. It was a huge adjustment that put a screeching halt on my plans to defend in May. In the end it all worked out. We worked on the kids school during the day and I tried to analyze data for the final chapter of my dissertation or write after they went to bed. I had a few (very) long lab days preparing and analyzing several hundred samples that would round out the data set for the last chapter of my dissertation. What would have taken a few weeks under normal circumstances took months. It wasn’t all bad though, things took longer, yes, but I didn’t have to spend hours in the car each day driving myself and kids to school and waiting while they did their after school activities. We went from having somewhere to be six days a week to only leaving the house one day a week. I think I may have actually gotten more sleep once summer break started for the kids. I finally compiled and submitted my dissertation to my committee in late July and successfully defended (via Zoom) mid-August; five months after the reality of the pandemic set in here. It felt like much longer than five months, but we adapted, and in many ways we are better for it.

MAM-A.4   11:15  Zoom High to Zoom-U: A College Freshman in the Pandemic DB Calco*, University of Michigan

Abstract: When the pandemic first began to spread in Michigan, one of the first things my high school calculus class showed me was an infographic produced by the University of Michigan (UM) showing how we could flatten the curve by staying home for a few weeks - shortly prior to our school calling off classes in March for three weeks. Unfortunately, three weeks led to the entire semester. At the time, it was actually a lot of fun: not leaving my room for weeks on end, getting to sleep and wake up whenever I wanted, and having all of my final exams effectively cancelled. Having already committed to the University of Michigan weeks prior to school shutting down, I felt confident that things would be normal by the time college started. Sitting here a year later, finishing my freshman year of college without ever having a taste of the real “college experience”, I feel left with more questions than ever. With the switch to a fully remote setting, I am a bit cautious of what it will be like to actually return to in person classes, as I have grown very much accustomed to having the internet and open-note tests accessible to me in nearly every class. Along with this, office hours and getting in contact with professors digitally seems so much easier than actually meeting in person, leaving me to wonder how it even operates in a normal format. However, I will say that I consider myself to be luckier than most, as the first year at UM primarily concerns itself with pre-requisite classes. I don’t feel like I am missing out on much, as the classes I have to take online this year are definitely not as interesting as the ones I can expect to be taking later on, especially so for the classes that do not directly relate to my major. While being able to access college from my own home is nice, I’m eager to actually receive the full college experience.

MAM-A.5   11:20  Perspective of a Graduating Senior MA Cooney*, University of Michigan

Abstract: For almost the last year of my college experience, I have been completely virtual, which has been a very strange shift from the first three years I spent on campus. In May, I will graduate with a completely virtual live-streamed ceremony, and, I can’t even have a camera on, so I’ll probably just be in sweatpants on my couch. It’s been very interesting, however, to see how this change in the last year of college has affected the future perspectives of myself and my graduating friends. Last March, about half of the people I knew lost their internships for the summer. This was stressful because the internship after junior year is particularly important, since a lot of students are hoping for return full-time offers at the end of the summer. These students then had to start their job hunt from scratch, and with one less internship experience, in the fall, which has made it more difficult to find a job. In addition, the normal career fairs were turned virtual, which meant students had to sign up for ten-minute time slots that were gone almost instantly. I was lucky, in that, my internship was just cut in half and virtual, and I was able to pick up a research job. After college, I am planning to attend law school, and a lot of people I know are planning on some sort of graduate school. But, because of the pandemic, applications for a lot of those schools are up, so it’s even more difficult to stand out in the applications process. For a lot of those graduate programs, they are putting more people on the waitlist who wouldn’t be there in a “normal” year, making the waiting process longer and the next year more uncertain for many students. The friends I have who are going into industry aren’t sure where they will be living because most of the positions are virtual and could be so indefinitely. Overall, the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and challenges for students who are graduating during it.

MAM-A.6   11:25  Experience with COVID as a Graduate Student LK Chung*, Stanford University

Abstract: Moving to a new place is scary enough—it’s even worse under a global pandemic. I was in my last semester of college when COVID first hit: as a Mechanical Engineer, my capstone project botched as we had no choice but to turn physical prototypes into theocratical proposals. Things were otherwise going well, as I could still privately hung out with friends, most of my lab’s work can be done remotely, and recorded Zoom lectures helped me learn more when I no longer have to show up to 8 am classes half-awaken. Fast-forward 6 months when I arrived San Francisco, ready to start my Master’s degree at a different school, beaming with a naïve hope for new opportunities and new friends in a new city. In retrospect, I could not have been more wrong: With no project-based classes and no social events, I have yet to know any of my cohorts by name; No labs were hiring new students—professors are busy enough with adapting to remote research and online learning. In fact, I’m now halfway into my program and I have never once stepped foot on the campus, nor do I even have my student ID card yet. Struggling to adapt, I barely have time left to take care of my mental and physical health. Not one day have I not wished that things would go back to “normal”. As a silver lining, I get to live with my family instead of only seeing them in holidays. My old friends, whom I have been Zooming with, are really supportive as well. Things are looking better now that I have substantially lowered my expectations for a grad school experience—my only wish is for an actual graduation ceremony this time around.

MAM-A.7   11:30  Living and Learning in a Pandemic ME Trager*, University of Michigan

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the second semester of my freshman year at the University of Michigan. At the time, I was living in a dorm and had to move back in with my parents where I participated in research and classes remotely. I saw quarantine as an opportunity to get ahead in my studies, so I went to school and did research work full-time in Summer 2020. In August, I was excited to move back to Ann Arbor into an apartment I leased pre-pandemic with four of my friends. We were all sure to set ground rules about guests when we were not on lockdown, but we failed to plan for what to do if one of us contracted COVID-19. In November, my partner had a runny nose and decided to get tested just in case. To our surprise, he had COVID-19. Chaos erupted as my roommates and I drove around Washtenaw County trying to acquire a test without an appointment. The entire apartment got tested, and as we waited for the results, we discussed what to do with those who might test positive. The consensus was if you receive a positive test, you need to leave the apartment. I was sure I needed to find a different place to stay as I was already becoming symptomatic, but it was difficult to convince my parents to house me. I had a discrete mathematics exam that night and left for home the next morning. I continued my classes from home in my parents’ guest bedroom. My friend, who I share a room with in the apartment, also tested positive and was not able to move anywhere else to quarantine. So, the remaining roommates moved out and allowed me to move back in to keep her company as we quarantine. The windows in the apartment do not open, and we could not go anywhere. I was bedridden for a couple of days, as was my roommate. My professors were kind and extended some deadlines for me, but it was extremely hard to be focused when I was sick and isolated. It was a miserable few weeks and by the end I was just happy to get some fresh air. From start to finish, this experience was exhausting and extremely stressful. It opened my eyes to all the new stressors everyone is experiencing right now and forced me to be more compassionate towards myself and others if they are not being their best self.

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