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A Special COVID Congrats

Paige Roberts

A view of Patriot Hall in front of an intense sunset

No one expected the drastic changes that the COVID-19 pandemic forced upon the world last March. The class of 2020 was caught completely off guard when excitement for commencement, senior formal, and graduation parties quickly turned to disappointment because of necessary mask mandates and social distancing measures. Although Mount students understood the situation was out of their control, I can’t imagine the heartbreak of being two months away from an extravagant graduation ceremony only to be met with a deadly curveball.

I remember being excited to have classes canceled for a week when news of the rapidly spreading virus broke. My roommates and I thought of it as a little extra addition to spring break. We expected to be back on campus soon, continuing classes normally in a week or two. Little did we know, we wouldn't be in a classroom or see our classmates in-person for months, except on our laptop screens. Transitioning to online learning was frustrating; troubleshooting with Zoom and messing with the WiFi is still a regular obstacle for me and my roommates.

It’s incredibly hard to believe that we’ve surpassed the one-year mark of COVID beginning to wreak havoc on the world, descending our simple little student lives into a state of confusion and fear after the initial shock wore off. Our hope to enjoy the classic senior year outings that we looked forward to the most, like the Mount’s annual Tiki dance and Wednesday student nights at Ott’s, slowly disappeared as reality took over. We knew that our senior year would look different than any other, enduring not just a few months of unexpected change, but an entire academic year of a new normal.

Trees blooming in the spring at the National Shrine of St. Seton in Emmitsburg, MD. View of the Catoctin Mountains in the backgroundDespite all the disappointment surrounding COVID’s effects on our senior year, I was relieved to read the email sent from President Trainor over the summer that announced our efforts to implement a hybrid learning schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. Attending in-person classes two days per week was a small step toward returning to normalcy and not something that many colleges can boast then and even now. The Mount’s small campus size and student population not only allows us to provide enough tests to keep classroom learning safe for everyone, but also keeps the number of cases at a minimum with our diligent management and wastewater testing. Just sitting in the comfy classroom chairs and seeing my peers gives me hope for brighter days ahead. I'm truly so glad and thanking my younger self that I picked a college that is equipped to handle such unexpected situations in the most conscientious way possible. 

Mary, my roommate and I hiking the trails of Cunningham Falls State ParkAlthough quarantine brought about feelings of loneliness and monotony, I like to think it also brought good things. I became even closer with my roommates, enjoyed the company of three amazing new feline roommates and learned how to appreciate the little things of life a little bit more. I started taking regular walks around Emmitsburg once the weather got nicer last spring, and stuck with that habit through the remainder of 2020. I began to notice the simplest details of nature, which brought me an ironically immense amount of joy in a time where happiness felt scarce; frogs camouflaging in a puddle, birds chirping and flying overhead, the marvelous streaks and puffs of pink and orange in Emmitsburg sunsets.

Fighting off accelerated senioritis, I’m sure the Class of 2021 is especially excited to hear of in-person commencement plans that have just recently been announced in the President’s weekly update, because I definitely am. After the Mount managed to hold downsized graduation ceremonies for last year's graduates, I hoped to eventually receive similar good news for us. But having such a long-awaited event come to life despite wariness of sitting at our laptops in our caps and gowns is admittedly relieving and absolutely something to be grateful for. 

Cows grazing in a green pasture that I encountered on a walkI appreciate everyone who has reached out to me and enjoyed the blog! Thanks so much for reading. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more posts from our My View bloggers. Until next week...

Paige Roberts