by Kelly Cwik & Megan LaCreta, Asst. A&E Editor & Staff Writer
Last week, Manhattan College reached a milestone: the one-year anniversary of the school closing due to COVID-19. To reflect on the past year, The Quadrangle spoke with three students to see how they felt remembering the one-year mark and how they have managed these strange times.
Alex Castro, a senior mechanical engineering student, looked back on the past year.
“I know that it’s been about a year,” Castro said. “I feel like it’s given us enough time to just kind of take in the fact that this happened, and it’s given enough time for us to overcome it. It was horrible for a lot of people, it was good for some people, but now we just have to overcome the obstacles that we’ve faced within the last year and just try to grow.”
While social media has played a role in keeping many of us connected over the past year, John O’Connor, a sophomore management major, spoke about how it also offered a harsh reminder of how much our world has changed.
“I was getting all the [Snapchat] memories of all of us being like, ‘Yeah!’ for over two weeks, like ‘Long break, long break!’ and we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, and how long this actually would play out and how it literally changed all of our lives altogether,” O’Connor said.
Samantha Rini, a junior childhood education major, also spoke to the struggles of being reminded of pre-pandemic times, in particular by social media.
“It’s hard,” Rini said. “I mean, it feels like it’s been so much longer than a year, while also feeling like it hasn’t,” Rini said. “I haven’t stepped foot on campus since then, so I miss it a lot, and as the weather’s getting nicer, I’m like ‘Oh today would have been a beautiful day to sit on the quad’ like ‘Today would have been a beautiful day to do all these things’ and now even getting social media memories are like, ‘Oh one year ago today you were with your friends.”
The students also discussed the feeling of missing out on opportunities to grow during a seminal period of our lives.
“I feel like our college years are some of the last years that we have to make ourselves our first priority unapologetically,” Rini said. “So to lose out on a year of that already is a little discouraging and it’s kind of stressful.”
Rini and Castro both described the difficulties they and their peers have had finding jobs and internship opportunities, an issue that is especially of concern to upperclassmen.
“I feel like I’m being rushed into a future that I’m not ready for, and especially as an education major,” Rini said. “I’ve missed out on a lot of in-person fieldwork hours and observation hours. So the next time that I’m in the classroom, [it] will most likely be when I’m student teaching, which is terrifying.”
While Castro is thankful he was able to secure an internship for summer 2020 before the pandemic, he noticed that his peers were struggling.
“I’ve been grateful to be connected with a hiring manager who has an overview in the industry,” Castro said. “But in terms of job issues, it is very, very difficult. A lot of people, a lot of my fellow peers were not able to get an internship last summer, and now they just don’t have any experience.”
O’Connor also noted that while he was happy to be back on campus, not everyone is lucky enough to have a normal college experience again. He sympathizes with the freshman class, whose only college experience has been during the pandemic.
“I personally feel much worse for the freshmen, because this is their first glimpse of what college is like,” O’Connor said. “I feel like so many of them have to judge their experience off of remote college and there’s also so many people who haven’t even been to campus yet… And it’s also been super hard to see people that I may have been close to last year still remote, because their classes were remote both semesters, just by the way it worked out, like it wasn’t even by choice.”
Looking to the future, the students are hopeful for a return to normalcy. O’Connor describes how he misses the energetic campus feel and warm environment that places like Locke’s Loft used to foster.
“Honestly, if there’s one thing I miss about Manhattan College, it’s the vibe of Locke’s,” O’Connor said. “Like none of us have ever been a huge fan of the food. But I feel like everyone just had such a great time in Locke’s, something was always going on in there.”
Like many remote students, Rini is excited to potentially see her friends next semester and hopeful to return to campus soon.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends,” Rini said. “You know, there are so many friends that I haven’t seen in a year now, and I’m really really excited to see them.”
With a year of COVID behind us, here’s to more sunny days on the quad in the near future.