The past summer felt like a breeze. I was fortunate enough to reside on campus and take part in a remote internship at Prevention Point Philadelphia – a non profit in Kensington that is based around the principles of harm reduction. I was also able to get certified for contact tracing and was able to do contact tracing for Montgomery County until the beginning of September. Given that I could not leave campus for work or volunteering, I was incredibly humbled to be able to do a very small part in tackling the novel coronavirus. I mustn’t forget the strong sense of community that I’ve harbored whilst being on campus with my peers since March. Together, we’ve celebrated multiple birthdays, milestones (I can stand on the senior steps now!), religious occasions (socially distanced, of course.
One of the more spectacular things about our community has always been the self-accountability and sense of common good that each individual possesses. I witnessed that all summer as the small group of students who lived on campus adhered to the health and safety guidelines carefully. Naturally, I was apprehensive about a majority of the student body coming back to campus in the fall. To be honest, who wasn’t worried? Here we are in the midst of a global pandemic trying to do our best to not get sick and to not get our close contacts sick. Approximately one month after school has been in session, I feel comfortable saying that my trust in our community has not wavered. Things look significantly different for myself and for everyone else but we have all come together to make the best of this peculiar time.
This semester, I am taking biochemistry, a public policy class and another class on the logic and politics of global health. It’s too early for me to pick my favorite and almost impossible too because of how interesting the content covered in each of the classes is. Biochemistry has a lab component and is in-person. It has been a blessing to go back to Park Science Building. Although this semester opened the door to a lot of technical difficulties and presented itself with a steep learning curve, we are slowly but surely adapting to an in-person and socially distanced mode of learning. As for my remote zoom classes, I enjoy nothing more than staying in the comfort of my room for my 8 AM class! I have a designated work/study nook in my room in order to eliminate distractions during class and while I’m studying. I will also be resuming MCAT prep soon and given how frequently my schedule changed over the past few weeks, it has been difficult to just sit and start studying (more updates on how I’m “trying” to stay organized this semester to follow in later blog posts).
I also feel really fortunate that dining services and LITS (library and information technology services) have adjusted their modes of operation in accordance to the nationwide health and safety guidelines. Knowing that I can reserve a seat in either Carpenter or Canaday library (and socially distance with my mask on) if studying in my room gets too overbearing has been very instrumental in helping me stay motivated. Did I mention how happy I am to be back in Park again?
If you’re not new to my blog, you probably know by now how important community engagement is to me. Had someone told me this February that I will be unable to volunteer as an EMT and will not be on-site for my clinical research opportunity, I would have a very hard time coming to terms with it. Almost 6 months later, here I am having found a way to continue doing clinical research remotely and involving myself to adhere to the community’s needs through Bryn Mawr’s SGA (self-government association). I may not have been able to continue volunteering at the fire company but I am very clear about what opportunities I should involve myself in such that my health and my community’s health is not compromised.
Recently, the college has launched a brand new initiative surrounding community health and wellness. I hope this will create space for much needed health education and will be able to address important conversations surrounding mental health on campus.
To say that this adjustment has been challenging is an overstatement. There are days when my head hurts from looking at the screen all day, days where I wish I was able to hug my friends and take a stroll around Philadelphia among other things. This is not what I thought senior year would be like but, here we are. In the coming blog posts, I hope to shed more light on my role in SGA as head of honor board and to continue talking about the interesting aspects of the courses I’m taking. I also hope to talk about how the Bryn Mawr community continues to adapt and come together to allow us to learn and live together in the midst of this very strange time.