Sean Chase, 30, Newaygo
For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the worst year and counting of their life. Whether it be from a loss attributed to COVID-19, or due to restrictions imposed forcing people to work/go to school from their homes, as businesses shut down and their social life as they knew it disappeared, people’s lives were turned upside down. However, for me, things were a bit different.
As Grand Rapids Community College announced they were stopping in-person classes, I found myself rejoicing over the slight break in the midst of a grueling winter semester. Five days-a-week, I was on campus and struggling under the weight of my course load. So as I said I welcomed the break, but with the switch to virtual learning, I realized this was more than just a second spring break.
After GRCC changed how classes would be taught, I realized this was actually something that I could get behind. I’ve always been a homebody, so when our living-rooms became our classrooms I thought I would find my groove. However, being at home, introduced distractions that weren’t present in the classroom, as well as the opportunity to turn off your camera and mute your microphone. Now, as long as you were in the Zoom you could attend class while napping or cleaning or even playing video games. Due to this, my grades slipped, but with the help of great professors and personal dedication, I locked-in on my classes and managed to scrape by with passing grades.
This changed how I viewed the lockdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and my future education. After being a camera-off, muted-mic participant in most Zoom calls, I told myself that I would become involved in the next virtual class I took. That class happened to be Journalism 251. Going into that class I didn’t know about The Collegiate, and I was anticipating a textbook heavy briefing on how journalists go about their day-to-day business. However, that wasn’t how things played out. My participation was hit-or-miss, at first, and I was struggling to wrap my head around interviewing strangers and then writing their stories in a manner that pays respect to their individual journey.
As the semester progressed, my fear turned into passion as I developed a love for reporting and writing. If COVID-19 hadn’t forced virtual learning upon the world, I wouldn’t have found the career I want to pursue nor would I have been able to tell my story. So as crazy as it sounds the yearlong shutdown has been life-changing for me, but in the most positive way.