Despite COVID challenges, student employees stay positive

By Ellie Stimmel and Maddi Burch

Ellie Stimmel
Ellie Stimmel

Student life this year is a very different experience than last year. The transition from quarantine life back to school and work life has been difficult. Online classes, social distancing, and limited in person campus events make this year completely new. It is easy for me, Maddi Burch, a third-year student studying chemical engineering, to focus on the aspects of life last year that I miss, but the new normal this year has actually provided some blessings in disguise.

Like my co-author, Ellie Stimmel, a third-year student studying political science and strategic communications, I feel fortunate to still have a job on campus to help me feel some sense of normalcy. During this pandemic, we are now more thankful than ever for our coworkers and roommates, and the ability to spend more time studying.

Working at Walter Library

Maddi Burch
Maddi Burch

Walter Library provides a cozy environment that makes work enjoyable and helps make the chaos of the world seem a bit smaller. Our work at Walter library allows us to still connect with campus. Without this job, I would rarely come to campus at all because all my classes are online and I live in off campus housing. During my shifts, we are reminded that we are not alone in these uncertain times. We are part of an amazing community as students and employees.

Our coworkers and managers are incredible. We student workers support each other during these challenging times as friends. We check in with each other frequently and offer our help when needed. Our managers are very understanding, caring, and helpful. They consistently reached out when Walter was temporarily closed to ensure we stayed connected. They have implemented safety guidelines to provide safe working and studying environments at the libraries. They are also extremely flexible, as new information changes health guidelines.

We are very grateful. Working in the library has provided friendships, a solid foundation, and support system for all of the student employees during these uncertain times.

Thankful for roommates

Working in the library has provided friendships, a solid foundation, and support system for all of the student employees during these uncertain times.

—Ellie Stimmel and Maddi Burch

Another thing that has helped us during this odd time is being with close friends, which helps make things seem more normal. Our roommates have provided the social interactions and support system we need, for which we are very grateful. We are all students, so we can relate to each other over the sometimes-challenging adjustment to online classes.

Roommates and friends remind me that I am not alone and that I have their help if ever needed. They also provide a safe social group, which helps when there are social distancing guidelines in place.

Adjusting to online classes

At first, I was nervous about all my classes being online because I didn’t know what to expect. Once the semester started, however, I realized how much time I usually spend commuting to campus! Now with Zoom classes, I can use that time to study. As we’re both upperclassmen, we’re able to take courses suited to our majors. It’s much more enjoyable to concentrate on our courses since the content interests us!

Having free time while working at the library also helps me to manage my time better. I can stay on top of my homework and course load better than I have ever been able to do in the past. This was definitely an unforeseen perk for me. My anxieties about the changes to my class instruction format initially prevented me from seeing these benefits. We’re sure it has been difficult for our professors to keep up with these challenges. too, and it’s comforting to know that we are all dealing with similar circumstances this year. In the end, we’re thankful for the ability to study more and do so from the comfort of our homes.

A strange but rewarding semester

This semester has provided more struggles and obstacles than any before. As a student especially, it is difficult to experience such drastic changes in the college atmosphere. Many aspects of college life that we love now look completely different or do not happen at all because they cannot take place safely.

Still, we try to focus on the positive areas of our new normal. We truly value our student jobs at Walter library and appreciate the connected feeling that working there gives to our daily life. We value our close friendships and roommates more than ever before. Being able to safely see friends, by socially distancing or by spending time with those that we quarantine with, provides a much-needed support system during this time. And although transitioning to online classes through Zoom has been extremely challenging, the increase in saved time has allowed for us to better focus on our academics.

Overall, we are trying to remember our goals during this time. We are concentrating on ourselves. Staying healthy and happy is our top priority and we encourage those around us to do the same.

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