Home Coronavirus One Year of COVID-19 Student Reflections

One Year of COVID-19 Student Reflections

COVID-19 protocol signage from across campus. Photo by Breegan Petruska


Paige Bodine, 20, Grand Rapids

“I remember a year ago I was turning 19 on the 19th of March. Days before my birthday, people started panicking and buying out random things at the store. My mom couldn’t find flour so it looked like I wouldn’t get to enjoy one of her famous homemade cakes. As the crisis continued and things started to shut down, people continued to panic and there was still no flour. I was in the middle of taking statistics. It was one of those college classes that was required but I had absolutely no passion for, so I closed my door and focused on trying to pass the class. The only time that I left my textbooks was to work at the retirement home near my house, which let me tell you was not the most cheerful place to work during a global pandemic. We knew so little about COVID and that resulted in a lot of fear about getting the residents sick. It was frankly difficult to witness the residents not allowed to leave their rooms for weeks and lack any social time that we as humans need. Trying to think of a not scary explanation for why they were not allowed to leave as I was handed packaged food and looking like someone from the movie outbreak, was a difficult task. Thankfully, I had some great co-workers that made the best of the situation. So going back to my birthday, my neighbor heard that we had no flour and gave us what she had and my mom made me an AMAZING cake. That is the main takeaway that I have from this really rough year is the importance of giving with a humble heart and enjoying the little things in life.”


Jennifer Franz, 19, Holland

“My concern for COVID was that I was worried to get COVID and pass it to my parents. I was scared for our world because of the number of people who were affected by it. I was afraid that our world would never be the same. My unique situation is the fact that my two brothers are in California and they weren’t able to come home. My parents are separated from my sister and me. We live in two different houses in Holland because my sister and I want to keep my parents safe. I believe I learned how to be more serious about COVID and learn how everyone is going through it and not just oneself. I learned how crazy it is that the world is all remote from home from jobs and school. I learned how important it is to spend time with your loved ones because most of the time your life is so busy. And now you are with them for the whole year. It’s a blessing and at the same time crazy! My college has been a crazy experience because I am home all the time and online has been really hard for me. It’s not an easy time and also it’s nice that I don’t have to drive so much. I miss being around the campus and seeing everyone and going to school events.”


Kennedy Mapes, 21, Muskegon

“I think the majority of my struggles throughout 2020 and the course of the pandemic have been internal. The pandemic kind of forced me to go through a lot of personal growth in a short period of time. Because I spent so much time with myself throughout quarantine and really for the rest of the year, it brought a lot of my internal struggles to the forefront and gave me the opportunity to truly work on them and start caring for myself. I realized very quickly into quarantine that I am consistently focused on the needs of others and pride myself on doing extremely well in every aspect of my life, except for one – self-care. I struggled with feelings of failure, confidence issues, and lack of motivation, leading to more feelings of failure, but if there is one thing I am grateful for in all of this, it is that I’ve come out a better and stronger person. I have learned so much about myself throughout 2020, I almost feel as though I know myself better now than I ever have before. If I were to choose one thing that sticks out above all of the other things that I learned, I guess I would say that I learned how to properly care for my mental and physical well being in a way that is not only healthy but also consistently makes me happy and contributes to an overall positive outlook on life. I think this experience has just shown me that me being here and trying my best to get through this is enough. And I think I can apply that to every aspect of my life, but especially the rest of my college journey. I put an unbelievable amount of pressure on myself to go above and beyond expectations, which can be a good thing but can also be unnecessary and stressful. I think going forward, I will be more patient, compassionate, and empathetic, towards others of course, but also towards myself because I’m trying my best, I’m living, I’m breathing, I’m present, and that’s really all that matters.”