“It’s a difficult time.” We’ve all heard this one before. But for the Eckerd College Class of 2024, it has even more layers than just the pandemic sweeping the nation. For us, it also refers to our adjustment of a new way of life, of living away from home for the first time, and of learning so many new things and balancing class, work and friends. For us, it means becoming an adult in a world that no one understands.
At Eckerd College, many steps have been taken by the faculty and staff to aid this newest generation in our ‘first steps’ like community events including a silent disco and fall festival as well as safety procedures to keep the students safe, but will it be enough? Whether it is with optimism or with the anxiety of what’s coming next, one thing is definitely true about the first years at Eckerd College: We aren’t planning on giving up any time soon.
This refusal to give up became apparent when speaking to Kendell Roche, a first-year animal studies major. Roche remained optimistic about taking classes and the results of the phased move in.
“I would just say grateful that I can still live here,” Roche said.
First-year Aarushi Gandhi, who is planning on majoring in molecular biology with a pre-med track, expressed a similar feeling and talks about the close friends she has made at Eckerd and how the culture here is so open and helpful when trying to make those friends.
However, these students are only human, and Eckerd first-years had had our fair share of stressors. Kaitlyn Copland, a first-year marine biology major, expressed her annoyances about the lounge areas of the dorms being closed and the dorm restrictions, as many students would.
“It’s definitely different than what [Eckerd College] is usually supposed to be,” Copland said.
This can also be corroborated by Lacey Isbell, a junior and animal studies major, who talks about how autumn term looks very different this year compared to previous years at Eckerd. The timetable of classes and semesters is different, but she feels it most in the social side of college.
“I feel like for my autumn term it was easier to connect with other students and get help for our class...Eckerd’s all about connections,” Isbell said.
Copland said she feels the lack of closure from senior year because of quarantine and then later the cancellation of events like in-person graduation, which have stuck with her as she tries to make friends in this new environment.
To deal with stress, Copland has a few suggestions that she uses herself:
“I try to play piano, go swimming...getting off campus really helps,” Copland said
It’s clear that all hope is not lost. Eckerd has not forgotten their first-years, and not just because we moved in a month early. Throughout the past few months several events have been hosted to bring the Eckerd community closer together, including but not limited to a silent disco, wildflower planting, and baseball throwing to de-stress after final exams. Roche, Copland and Gandhi all said that they and their friends have attended several of these events, and expressed their enjoyment surrounding the activities.
These students, while they may talk about the things they don’t get to participate in, do not take what they have for granted - that’s for sure. Whether it be the appreciation Roche gave for being allowed to live on campus or Gandhi’s optimistic look on making friends here at Eckerd, the 2024 freshman class has felt what it was like to lose the things important to us, so we can appreciate everything we have now.