I’ve had the pleasure this past fall, winter, and now spring of working as a mentor with Sophia D’Alonzo, a graduating senior here in Howard County, on her Internship Project. We have been brainstorming and implementing a series of marketing activities since this is her focus for college. In listening to her, I thought it might be interesting for you to hear how she is viewing the chaos in the world from her perspective of being “On Pause” during her last few months of her senior year. The coronavirus clearly has the potential to really complicate her work and academic plans.
Ned – What are your plans for the Fall?
Sophia – I plan to attend University of Maryland in the fall. I’ll be living on-campus in the CIVICUS program, which is centered around community service and civic engagement. My major is Communications, which I hope to pair with a minor in Marketing.
Ned – That sounds pretty exciting. What are you doing during this “pause” in your senior year while we are waiting for the coronavirus to flow through our society?
Sophia – While my school system is working to implement a distance learning program, I have mostly been relaxing at home and talking to friends. I’ve taken the opportunity to get caught up on Netflix shows and movies that I’ve been too busy to watch. My friends and I have been keeping in touch by using Facetime, playing multiplayer games together, and using Netflix Party, which is an extension that allows us to have movie nights while watching on our separate devices.
Ned – Well, I’m glad that you have been keeping up with the goals of your internship program through our Zoom meetings each week. I also sense that you, like all of us, are concerned about family and friends. How do you feel about what is going on, with the dual threats of coronavirus and global warming?
Sophia – In both cases, it’s extremely frustrating to watch others not take the issue seriously. In the case of the virus, I have been staying home and social distancing. However, I see many people on the news and social media that are downplaying the issue and not doing their part to flatten the curve. With global warming, despite years of scientific studies and data, there are still a number of people who either don’t believe in the crisis or disregard it. While it can be disheartening at times, I feel motivated to continue spreading information in the hopes that I can bring more light to the issue.
Ned – Are your peers taking either of these threats seriously? What are they most concerned about right now?
Sophia – Most of my friends and their families have been staying home and limiting contact with other people to reduce potential exposure to the virus. With climate change, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone takes it seriously, but not enough that they are advocating publicly. Right now, everyone’s attention is focused on the coronavirus and its current and future impacts.
Ned – I remember my teenage years when we were scared about the Cuban missile crisis, a crooked president, political assassinations, and the Vietnam War. I think those events changed our generations in different ways – some for the better and some for the worse. How do you think the dual crises are affecting you and your generation?
Sophia – It’s difficult to predict how exactly this will change the way we live in the future. I’ve found it easier to approach things on a day by day mindset and focus on what personal tasks I have because it’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about the pandemic. I hope our situation now brings light to necessary change, especially in the United States healthcare system. There are many shortcomings in our healthcare that have been highlighted by inadequate response to the virus. Additionally, I anticipate that there will be more of a global focus on sanitation and public health. What I’ve noticed most, however, is how much technology is able to connect us. While it isn’t ideal, I’ve been able to connect with friends and family from miles away using texting, video chat, social media, and multiplayer games. This technology is something I’ve taken for granted, but I have found a new appreciation for it. I predict that there will be more innovation in tech that is designed to bring people together in these situations.
Ned – What will you do if UMCP does not open in the fall, or if all instruction is online?
Sophia – I guess I’ll have to take my classes online. It would be disappointing because I’ve been looking forward to living on campus for a long time, but we’ll have to adapt.
Ned – I know things are very uncertain right now, but I understand HCPSS will be offering online instruction beginning April 24. But after that, do you have plans for the summer?
Sophia – I hope to be able to see my friends and spend time with family. I have a trip planned to Deep Creek lake with friends at the end of June. Things are up in the air right now, but we’ve been looking forward to it for months and now we’re really hoping we’ll be able to go. Of course, I’ll (hopefully) be planning for college move-in and getting everything ready for my first semester.
Ned – Well thank you for the comments Sophia – it’s a lot to process. I realize that these are the types of challenges that would be helpful to discuss with others. I hope you are able to maintain your relationship with your friends via technology. I enjoyed working with you this year and I wish you the best in the future.