Powerful Perspectives of the Pandemic

The authors of this exhibit:

COVID-19 AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

Everyone has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic differently. To see some of these different perspectives, we talked to students and employees around campus to see how they felt, how the pandemic affected them and what they were able to do to continue thriving. Compiling these different points of view, we found several commonalities - events, daily meetups, and traditions had to be modified to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Students and staff experienced the pandemic in lots of different ways, and we bring their stories together here. Some people chose to share pictures, other wrote their stories down and others even used their voice to share how the pandemic made them feel. We wanted to bring together stories that weren't widely known.

During the pandemic, some people faced unemployment, others faced isolation from activities, and others faced digital learning. These are just some examples of circumstances people had to face because of the pandemic. At St. Mary's University, staff, professors, and students did everything they could to confront these challenges. Professors taught online, authorities made possible hybrid classes, students get vaccinated to be able to attend class, and staff made possible in-person events little by little. The community did all of things these because they wanted to be together to face these problems as a whole. Even though we knew the pandemic was something that we couldn't stop, St. Mary's staff tried their best to make everything possible, even if that meant Zoom classes, pausing certain services, and talking through a screen all the time.

Different Perspectives 

Since the pandemic happened and is still ongoing, so many things have not been the same since or will ever be the same again. People are living a completely different life because they are not going out of their houses on normal basis, some are not working anymore or are working inside their homes, some others are struggling with a deadly disease. Many people were impacted by this pandemic in different ways that their lives have changed completely. Some lost their jobs and had no resources for paying bills, providing food, or event attending school. For some students going back home was an issue because they did not have any funds. St. Mary’s University raised money to help students get back home and the school reached this goal and helped students get back to their families. Other students, who are employed by St. Mary’s University, were able to get vaccinated or get weekly COVID-19 testing on campus.

 

Throughout the pandemic students had to live a different college experience. They had to adjust to using face masks in every classroom. Classrooms were not full, and some classes were hybrid which meant that some students were in person and some others were connected through Zoom. As the pandemic was evolving little by little, we noticed the different experiences new students were having in St. Mary’s University. For example, Greek Week became part of the students’ life once again in Fall 2021 and some employees were able to go back in person to work but with weekly COVID-19 testing.

 

With the help from programs, churches, professors, and staff coming together, many people and students got the help and resources that they needed to continue surviving through this pandemic. For example, communities helped with clothes and food to those who were struggling with it, and professors adapted and were more lenient with their students and their assignments.

Every story matters - Student's perspective

During the pandemic, classes had to be accommodated so in-person and Zoom classes were also combined. St. Mary's students were able to feel connected and be able to start making friends with this possibility. 

Every story matters – Greek Week 2021

Greek life is also part of St. Mary's students' life. Traditions such as Greek Week were executed following the COVID-19 guidelines.

Jobs/Businesses Closed during Covid-19 Pandemic

One of the main things that people had to face when COVID-19 hit the U.S. was concerns about unemployment or suspended employment.

Employee Weekly Covid-19 Test

St. Mary’s employed weekly Covid testing to get things under control and get businesses back open policies are set in place to make sure people are safe while returning to St. Mary's University.

Interviews 

During the ongoing pandemic, we wanted to collect different voices regarding COVID-19 and know what has happened to them or what has changed since the pandemic hit the U.S. We collected perspectives from professors who had to learn a new way of teaching to religious people that had to hear God's calling during a pandemic. Hearing their voices and interviewing them really changes one's feeling as you capture their thoughts in the interview. Knowing that there were people struggling like us made us realized that we were not alone and that this pandemic was impacting each one of us. During the pandemic, some lost loved ones, some got sick, some got depression, and all of it was hurtful to hear and know. St. Mary's community suffered all of these things from international students who had to learn through a screen from their own countries to staff who had to be in their houses when people were detected with COVID-19 on campus. But all of it was worth it because St. Mary's have been able to live through the pandemic following the guidelines needed to keep the community safe.

Every story matters – International Professor's Perspective

In this interview, we can listen to Elisa Aguilera interviewing Dr. Cortina about being an international professor during the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked about the things that made it harder to teach and the things that made it easier to be grateful for.

Every story matters – Local Professor's Perspective

In this interview, we can listen to Elisa Aguilera interviewing a local professor, Dr. Uhlig. He talks about how being lenient with students was needed but never forget about the teaching part too.

In these two interviews, we met up with a local and an international professor. Both professors were concerned about two important things -- people’s physical health, and students’ mental health. Both mentioned how they were lenient with their students because they did not want to put pressure on them, but they also mentioned that they also cared about their students learning the material during the course. Both were also in agreement about learning how to teach online was a skill they gained during the ongoing pandemic. It does not matter where you come from but the values you have and the importance you give to the people from your community.

Helping Others during Covid-19 Pandemic

Having a Chaplin at St. Mary's makes it worth the while knowing that when help is needed, we can always feel safe and get the guidance we seek.

Employee Interview Regarding Covid-19

Employees at St. Mary's were unknown of what was to come while the pandemic hit but stayed positive knowing that things will slowly but surely get back to normal.

Ana Suarez Oral History, 2021/12/01

Students at St. Mary's were unaware that they would not be returning to school once the pandemic hit and instead be taking virtual classes for the next year.

St. Mary's University Traditions

Like every college, St. Mary's University also has its own traditions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of events and traditions had to be canceled or done through Zoom during the 2019-2020 academic year. The fall semester of 2021 brought a lot of hope and spirit to the St. Mary's community as more in-person events and traditions were planned again. COVID-19 guidelines still had to be followed but students and staff were happy to see these events come back or even see new traditions formed. Following the COVID-19 guidelines meant always wearing facemasks, using gloves when touching any kind of food (it did not matter if it was already packaged), and keeping social distance when attending the events. Continuing the Heritage and Burgers with the Brothers are two examples of events that returned in Fall 2021. Once again, the campus community could come together to build community and see the brothers again. These events were special for all the attendees, students, staff and Marianist brothers.

Every story matters – Continuing the Heritage 2021

CTH is a St. Mary's tradition that was possible to be made in person after a year of doing it online. Using facemasks inside buildings and people accepting volunteers in their places made this even possible around the St. Mary's community.

Every story matters – Burgers with the Brothers 2021

Burgers with the brothers is also a St. Mary's tradition that was done with the needed COVID-19 guidelines. Volunteers using facemasks and gloves made this event possible this academic year.  

Why is all of this important?

We believe that every story matters. Because of this, we chose to bring in different perspectives on the pandemic from within our community. As students at St. Mary’s University, we think that is important to hear people’s story to connect in a deeper way. One way to start building up a community is to hear your peers’ issues, and going through hard times in group makes it easier. Weathering the storm together helps the community feel more connected.

We have not experienced all of the negative consequences of the pandemic, such as unemployment, unable to do service, learning of digital options, etc. However, this is the reason why we wanted to share these stories with the world and raise awareness about what people have experienced during the pandemic. By bringing together stories of students and faculty, we hope you can connect with these stories too. We want the St. Mary’s community to be aware that they are not alone, and that if we unite, we can get more done.

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