Serving the Campus Community and Beyond: Senior Commits to Campus Involvement Amid COVID-19

by, C. Garrett Keidel, Senior Writer 

During the first full semester of the COVID-19 pandemic, campus life changed dramatically with the transition from in-person to remote events. That hasn’t stopped senior Patricia “Patty” Wright from being heavily involved in several on-campus and off-campus activities.

As a member of the class of 2021, Wright majors in Childhood Special Education with a Math minor, and is enrolled in Manhattan College’s graduate program. It was specifically Manhattan’s offering of a childhood special education major that drew her to the college.

“I really knew I wanted to do special education, that was something that I knew hands down,” Wright said. “I wanted it to be my major and that’s actually a lot more difficult to find. A lot of times [colleges] offer it for a graduate degree, but not your undergraduate.”

Wright has had a passion for helping those with disabilities. She describes her relationship with the pursuit of a career in special education as something she feels personally connected to.

“I have an autistic sister…so I always grew up in a world with people who have disabilities,” Wright said. “There were always a lot of opportunities presented to me when it came to working with people with disabilities… I would go to programs with my sister and parents because it’s always a family thing when you have someone who’s disabled in your family. Everyone is in it with you…it’s like a sense of community.”

Wright has taken this passion and put it into action. With the restrictions of COVID-19 and the introduction of virtual classes, Wright doubles as a tutor to two remote learning pods for children taking online classes

“If I was a parent with a child at this age, and I could not have a learning pod instructor or someone to watch your kids, I don’t know what I’d do,” Wright said. “It’s just that they need so much at that age.”

Outside of her role as an education instructor, Wright continues to be a very active member of the campus community. Wright is the president of Manhattan’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society, a member of Sigma Delta Tau, the education liaison for Engineering Ambassadors, a member of the Manhattan College mentors program and is involved in Her Campus. 

“For me, it’s a matter of finding what you love, and I’m very passionate about what I do,” Wright said. “I always liked being busy and having things to do. It was a way for me to make a community and friends, and I just really enjoyed it.”

With being actively involved in the campus social life, Wright also commented on the challenges she faced in a virtual environment. As the New Member Educator for Sigma Delta Tau, Wright is in charge of welcoming new members to the sorority, and she didn’t want the digital format to hinder their experience. She was tasked with continuing a community feel through digital outlets. 

“Myself along with the rest of [Sigma Delta Tau’s] executive board, especially our president, Ireland [Twiggs], recognized that the girls need this, everyone needs a sense of community, we want to keep things going, we want to have events,” Wright said. “I think the process is so special, and it’s something that everyone remembers because it’s the time where you’re excited, you’re joining like you’re making new friends like you feel like you found this place. I really wanted everyone to have that to the best way I could.”

She elaborated further on the creative ways the organization created a sense of community virtually.

“The hardest part is we have these things called sister dates,” Wright said. “You give them an activity and they hang out that kind of thing. So we had to come up with new ideas. We had a Club Penguin date, so everyone made their own Club Penguin account and other game things, so I really liked it.”

Wright hopes to work in the Department of Education as a special education teacher, and in the future, an administrator.

“I really like teaching which I learned from my internships and other jobs I’ve had,” Wright said. “I see myself definitely in the school setting, but kind of jumping into different roles in the school setting. But certainly always involving people with disabilities. That’s, I think, the area where I have the most to give.”