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Weathering the COVID-19 storm

  • Monday, May 4, 2020
    Stephanie Hallowell

    Editor's note: The transition to all online classes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented adjustment in the journey to realize the goal of earning a college degree.  Here's a graduate student's perspective.

    By Stephanie Hallowell

    The academic schedule of a graduate student differs significantly from undergraduate counterparts, but that does not mean the challenges presented by the pandemic are less daunting. 

    I'm a second-year student in rehabilitation counseling just 9 credit hours from earning my second degree from UMES a year from now in May 2021. 

    I do feel very fortunate because one of my classes was online already and another was a hybrid course - a combination of in-person and online. 

    So far, I'd say my experiences are captured by the modern English proverb: “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass … It's about learning to dance in the rain.” 

    This not because I am working harder than anybody else, but because I, like some of my classmates, was taught to be persistent and prepared despite life's unexpected circumstances. 

    I try to be mindful of the multiple roles I play: girlfriend, aunt, sister, daughter and granddaughter. All while helping on a livestock and crop farm that has been in my family for six generations. 

    I was almost finished with my direct (contact) hours (I had put in 31.5 of the 40 hours) required for the Rehabilitation Counseling Practicum course taught by Dr. Leslie Santos, the rehabilitation services department's graduate program director, when the pandemic was declared. 

    Since on-site field work in Salisbury at Maintaining Active Citizens - better known as MAC, Inc. - focused on Assistive Technology (tools, equipment or products that help people with disabilities successfully complete activities at school, home, work and in the community), I was prepared for that transition. 

    Transitioning to remote instruction, however, has increased the amount of weekly work - I estimate by 25 percent - that needs to be accomplished by following up with my classmates and instructors in a timely fashion. 

    As I work and communicate remotely with my classmates and instructors, I remind myself of a quote from the late Nelson Mandela my grandfather taught me: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

    My fellow Hawks, let us not fear the storm of COVID-19 but dance in the rain - and fly high in the sky. 

    Stephanie Hallowell is pursuing a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling. She is parliamentarian for UMES' Graduate Student Government and the (graduate student) vice president for the university's chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.