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COVID-19: A college student’s perspective

Rylee Napolitan, Class of 2023, Chatham University, is an English major and Communique (student news site) Business Manager, and the daughter of Mark and Erin Napolitan of Warren.

As I’m writing this piece, I’m sitting in the middle of my bedroom at home, completely unpacked and moved back in an entire month and a half before I anticipated. More than half of the students on my campus have already vacated the premises since Chatham University announced the switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester on Wednesday, March 11. The other half will stay until the university eventually kicks them out and closes down residence halls. As of Sunday evening, there are currently five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pittsburgh.

Chatham has become my home over the past eight months since moving in towards the end of August. I fell in love with the city and the campus when I first toured it in the summer of 2018, and the feelings have only grown the longer that I’ve stayed. To leave that environment behind is a huge adjustment to make on such a whim.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue my schooling, and for the versatility of my professors at this time, but to know that it will be another five months before I see them again is especially hard. The best thing about Chatham is the professors. I’ve learned from some of the most intelligent and experienced people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, which has aided in making the college experience so great. I’ve always done well in school, but I’ve never enjoyed going to class until starting college. Class discussions where everyone is an active and willing participant rule the roost at Chatham, especially in classes related to my major. I enjoy the opportunity to bounce my thoughts off of my peers and professors, and in turn, listen to what everyone else has to say.

As happy as I am that I get to continue my schooling online, it will be a struggle to hold myself accountable or be as excited to do the work as I would be if I were on campus. It’s difficult for me to be productive when I can’t be in a space separate from where I live, so these coming weeks will be challenging for me to avoid the distractions of my room and my entire family being in the house.

My professors have sent out slews of emails since the announcement, detailing their plans for the remainder of the semester, well wishes, and apologies that we can no longer meet face-to-face. In spite of the circumstances, they are all optimistic and prepared to take on the challenge of turning the remainder of the coursework into something that can be done online, remotely in just a matter of days; gumption that I greatly admire.

I am disappointed that my first year of school isn’t going to end how I wanted it to, but sometimes life happens and things are not always in our control. If everything that I wanted to happen in my life, happened without me being disappointed or something going awry, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If anything, it just makes me more determined to finish this semester strong, and excited for the start of fall semester.

Rylee Napolitan, Class of 2023, Chatham University, is an English major and Communique (student news site) Business Manager, and the daughter of Mark and Erin Napolitan of Warren.

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