When I received my acceptance letter to Saint Francis University in 2017, I expected my four-year college experience to be “normal.”
Then came COVID-19, which hit the United States in early 2020. With its arrival came a loss of jobs, a loss of sanity, and most importantly and sadly, a loss of many of the people we know and love.
In March of 2020, we were sent home to finish the semester virtually. Who could have predicted that the lack of human interaction – with our friends, teachers and other members of the campus community – would cause us to miss Saint Francis as much as we did? By the time that last spring’s semester ended, we were very eager to return to Loretto.
“Not getting to have the actual goodbye at the end of the year was rough,” said junior Kyle Simmonds. “I missed my people.”
2020 was a year of change for all of us. Students, faculty and staff – as well as our family and friends – had to adjust in many ways. Attending college during a pandemic caused us to change the way we communicate with people. We changed the way we learned and we changed the way we live our everyday lives.
And with these changes came a lot of growth.
“It is clear the pandemic has posed many barriers and challenges,” said senior occupational therapy major Lauren Montecalvo.
“However, this past year has challenged me to grow in my ability to adapt and exhibit flexibility across many situations. Despite the many protocols and precautions put in place, my peers and I were challenged to think outside of the box often and demonstrate resilience, even in difficult situations.”
Many of SFU’s athletic teams couldn’t finish their seasons in the winter and spring of 2020. Members of the Red Flash football program and other fall sports teams were crushed when they learned that their fall 2020 season would be canceled, and not postponed to this semester.
“When I first found out about our season being canceled, it was extremely tough to handle,” said Red Flash junior defensive back Christian Massie.
“Many thoughts went through my mind and the minds of my teammates about what the future holds for our program. With that being said, I think the experience made us closer and hungrier for our sport.”
Without sporting events for much of the last year, there were no opportunities for the cheerleading and dance teams to perform for fans. And for the athletic teams that were fortunate enough to compete, no fans were allowed to attend home sporting events until just recently.
Members of the cheerleading team were told that competing at Nationals in Daytona this month would not be an option.
“Not being able to cheer due to COVID made me realize just how important our sports are to our physical and mental health,” said Delaney McMullen, a freshman on the cheer team.
“I found it frustrating that I didn’t get to step on the mats with my new teammates at competitions this year.”
Over the last year and a half, I’ve learned to look at life in a more optimistic way. I’ve learned that COVID-19 has provided me – and many others here at Saint Francis – a great learning experience.
I’ve learned that things happen for a reason (at least that’s what I tell myself).
I am grateful to the University’s staff and faculty for creating a safe environment for us in the midst of a global pandemic.
As we seniors soon part ways, we will miss our Saint Francis family, as well as our favorite place to grab coffee, enjoy study dates with friends, or put up a hammock.
But we will always remember how our journey started and how it ended: with an experience of change that will impact us for the rest of our lives.
Marina Misitano has served as Editor in Chief of the Troubadour for the last two years.