Students reflect on first full academic year during pandemic

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Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

The first full academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic will soon come to a close.

By Suln Yun, Staff Writer

As the end of the first full academic year with COVID-19 comes to a close, many Pitt students are preparing for upcoming finals and sharing their thoughts on this year’s primarily virtual learning experience.

For Ashumi Rokadia, a senior information science major, her last finals week is nerve-wracking yet exciting. Rokadia said taking her last final as an undergrad is bittersweet knowing she will soon graduate from Pitt.

Ashumi Rokadia is a senior majoring in information science. (Image courtesy of Ashumi Rokadia)

“Obviously I would have loved to have everything in person, but I am happy that it was virtual,” Rokadia said. “I do miss the in-person aspect of it, but one thing I love about classes being virtual is I can do my classes outside, with a friend, at a coffee shop, and I’m not confined to a classroom.”

Like Rokadia, many students have conflicting feelings about the end of the semester. Peter Dadson, a first-year chemical engineering major, said he has complicated emotions about the end of this year. He said the most challenging part of this year is accepting how fast time has flown this semester while it also felt painstakingly slow at times.

Peter Dadson is a first-year chemical engineering major. (Image courtesy of Peter Dadson)

“As the semester comes to a close, I feel a smorgasbord of contrasting emotions,” Dadson said. “Part of me is elated that this semester will finally end and another part of me is somewhat sad and nostalgic of what I will miss after I return home to Texas and could’ve been if we hadn’t been affected by COVID-19.”

Though Dadson feels stressed with upcoming finals, he said he hopes to go back to in-person classes in the future after students are fully vaccinated. Dadson said adapting to remote learning during the pandemic definitely presented a lot of social and mental challenges.

“I don’t think that I’ll be the only person to say I’ll be beyond glad when classes will return to normal,” Dadson said. “Trying to network with different people in your class or build a relationship with your professor [through Zoom] is a bit more difficult but not impossible. Maintaining focus over an extended period of time while staring at a screen is mentally draining, especially when taking many math and science courses where tons of information is released for you to absorb.

With the difficulties of online learning and limited social interaction, many students said they have been struggling. Still, as summer break nears, students like Meghan McGrory, a first-year undecided student, are excited to enjoy the long break as well as make plans for summer. McGrory said she has been planning what she should do for the upcoming summer when she finishes her finals.

Meghan McGrory is a first-year undecided major. (Image courtesy of Meghan McGrory)

“I have a job set up for over the summer at Target, and I am going to California with my family if COVID-19 is better by then,” McGrory said. “Next year I am taking the emergency medicine technician course and I am very excited for that because I have hopes of getting into an EMT program for my junior year in the future!”

Though this year has been tough, Dadson said he feels grateful for interacting with new students who are also attending college during a pandemic.

“I feel like it’s taken so much time to get to the end of the semester but in the big picture I’m already nearly a sophomore,” Dadson said. “I’m grateful for all the intelligent, wonderful, lovely people I’ve connected with and I’m glad to call my friends within and outside the Swanson School of Engineering and I hope to strengthen my connections with these people next semester as well as create new ones.”

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