He had envisioned spending his summer in a hospital, but Derrick Webb is still on the path to gaining any experience he can in the medical field. Derrick, a biology and pre-med major with a minor in chemistry, had applied for research opportunities and hospital internships for the summer.
“All of that came to a halt because of COVID-19,” says the rising sophomore at Dillard University, an HBCU in New Orleans.
Instead, Derrick is back at home in Montgomery, Alabama, in self-isolation. He’s trying to find opportunities to assist with chemical lab research at a nearby university. He’s also preparing for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and considering other online courses. While on campus, Derrick had tutored at-risk students through a work-study program, So he’s also considering offering his tutoring services online. He’s staying productive and finding time to unwind, he says.
“This is the best time to apply for scholarships,” he says. “Pick up a new book or go back to your old hobbies. Being a college student can be mentally and physically draining with classes, extracurriculars, and work-study.”
Since returning home, he’s had time to read his favorite books, watch TV, and listen to music.
“Maybe the quarantine is a time to unwind. There’s actually a lot for you to do. You just have to find it. As a college student, your head is always spinning,” he says. “It’s actually been therapeutic for me being in my own zone.”
Dillard announced it would operate on a modified schedule in the fall, so Derrick plans to return to campus in July to begin RA (resident assistant) training.
She’s trading the online classroom for the great outdoors
Ella Eskenazi is a planner. The high school senior from Indianapolis had the next four years of her life laid out. She would attend Pitzer College in Claremont, California, where she was accepted through early decision, and would study a curriculum related to medicine, sustainability and public health.
“COVID-19 has allowed everyone to pause, especially seniors,” says Ella. I decided if my school goes online next semester, I would like to take a gap year. Then I thought, even if it doesn’t go online, I still want to take a break.”
In the final months of their senior year, members of the class of 2020 have found themselves mostly indoors, doing schoolwork via online and other distance-learning methods. Ella feels a pull to get her hands dirty and breathe fresh air. She plans to do that by taking a gap year.
In the fall, she would like to work on some kind of organic farm. “I really want to get outside, and farms always need extra help,” says Ella. Then, for the second semester, she is hoping to participate in a backcountry experience like NOLS, where she can get certified in wilderness first aid.
To Ella, perhaps the most interesting part is that everything is tentative. “It may not work out exactly how I envisioned, but I am trying to work with more flexibility,” she says. “Often with high schoolers, there is this idea that you have to do [college] in four years and follow this specific trajectory, whether it is spoken or unspoken. You have to decide your major, etc. Being OK with changing my mind will be really awesome.”
Summer plans shift to staying home and helping his community