The Child Neurology Foundation partnered with Our Odyssey to bring you this perspective of a young adult returning to college during the era of COVID-19. Our Odyssey is an organization that empowers young adults impacted by chronic and rare conditions.
Tell me about yourself?
My name is Marie Young and I am starting my senior year at Murray State University in Kentucky. I am an English creative writing major with an interest in nonprofit work. I actually shifted my major halfway through college to more of a nonprofit focus after interning for Lotus, a sexual violence resource and child advocacy center, for a year and loving the work.
What is your favorite class?
My favorite classes within my major are a research class I took and a film class. I also loved an astronomy class I took outside of my major.
What is your university’s plan for returning this fall?
My university is bringing everyone back to campus and they have some online class options as well. They have released guidelines for going back for faculty and students which are comprehensive. I am the President of my Residential College Council so I communicate a lot with administration to get answers about how things will be implemented. For example, move in will be done in stages over 7 days with students signing up for a time slot to move in. I really do appreciate what Murray State has done by creating these regulations and phases that are specific to our situation and community.
How is your school communicating with students?
It’s a mix. The university has things on its website, is using email, and social media. Professors are a bit different. I’ve only gotten one email so far from a professor about whether classes will be in person or online.
What are you most concerned about this fall?
I’m most concerned that there seems to be some professors that don’t take this as seriously, they’re being real sticklers about having to come to class. Right now, I feel safe going to class but, if the situation changes, I don’t know if I would depending on how my professors respond.
Do you feel like your chronic conditions have impacted the way you’ve had to think about going back to school this semester?
I think it should probably impact my decisions more than it actually has. My conditions don’t make me immunocompromised so I feel pretty safe myself, but it still has made me think differently than other students. I really would prefer not to go to class because I know that if I got COVID, it would be a lot harder for me. I’m still so ready to go back to school, even though I should probably be a little more concerned, but I’m ready to leave home and I feel like I can with the new regulations in place.
As the President of your Residential College Counsel what types of questions are you asking your administrators?
I am asking about what will happen if there is an outbreak – will they require student to leave campus again? It was very last-minute last spring and moving out was a nightmare. Also, will they always match their regulations to those of Kentucky? I’ve also asked what exactly will happen if I test positive? What to do about someone that refuses to wear a mask? I am not sure how student workers will be able to police that.
Are there any different perspectives that you’re hearing from your peers or your friends about going back?
I do have one friend that is not coming back because her mom has cancer and just finished her treatment. If my friend comes in contact with anyone at school that has COVID, she won’t be able to go back home and see her family. Luckily, she has a major that allows her to stay home and do classes online. I have other friends that just want to be around people because they miss each other so much. I haven’t seen anyone that wants to be unsafe but people are really wanting to get back and see each other.
Are there any other people that you leaned on to help make the decision to go back to school?
I think because of my age I made the decision myself. As a young adult, I am very active on social media, particularly Twitter, and I have been reading and listening to all the different opinions out there. Things on social media have probably influenced my decision-making but I feel confident in my ability to stay safe as I go back.