By Jay Simon and Wendy-Akua Adjei; The Whetstone
It’s just not the same.
Senior Chyna Foster said it was a great loss when Wesley College was forced to finish the last six weeks of its spring semester online because of the Corona-Virus pandemic that has closed colleges and schools throughout the country.
Even the early May graduation was postponed, and all summer classes have moved online since Delaware’s governor ordered most residents to stay home until at least May 15.
“It’s a big milestone that we all want to experience, of course,” Foster said of graduation. “The online classes are bullshit. It takes away from our full ability to reach our potential to learn in classes. As a nursing student, it takes me away from the hands-on work that I need to help me understand what I am doing.”
Christine McDermott, director of student success and retention, said she also was disappointed about graduation.
“As one of the student marshals for commencement for 19 years, I am saddened that we needed to change the method of our commencement ceremony,” she said. “But with a worldwide pandemic we were not left with any other option.”
Since December 2019, coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been sickening and claiming victims throughout the country and around the world. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic in March.
Wesley College shut down its campus and moved all courses online beginning March 16.
Angela D’Antonio, professor of psychology, said it has been a challenge. And she doesn’t like it very much.
“I miss interacting with my students in the classroom and seeing them around campus,” she said. “I am using Microsoft Teams to hold class sessions, but it is just not the same as being able to hold classes and explain things fully. I need interaction and feedback. It feels artificial – like something is missing. Something is missing!”
Professor Brantley Craig said he wasn’t adjusting easily with the transition to online classes at first.
“It has taken some adjustment, but it is going pretty well so far,” he said. “It actually means a lot more work in some ways, and takes patience, but we’re all figuring it out. I miss actual class discussions. That’s one of my favorite parts of teaching, and virtual meetings and online forums are not the same.”
Graduation Ceremony Postponed
Senior Autumn Brown said she struggled at Wesley when she first started, but is happy with what she accomplished.
“There were a lot of ups and downs from my freshmen year, just getting used to the experience of college,” she said.
But it’s not being able to attend a graduation ceremony that hurts the most.
“Walking means so much to everyone because the struggle you had when enduring college is gone, and everything you worked so hard for is deserved to be acknowledged and recognized,” she said.
Senior Briahna Marshall said she has been waiting to graduate for six years.
“I have been in school for six years and graduating from the nursing program is something that I have always looked forward to,” she said. “It’s really difficult but I’ve been
coming to terms with not having a graduation and finding comfort knowing there are other people in the same situation and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Senior Alana Corry said she’s had a hard time adjusting to the campus shut-down.
“I lost all my motivation for school, but I’m pushing through,” she said. “Not having a graduation is sad. I waited my whole life for this moment, and it is not happening.”
Senior Jordan Dillard said, despite the cancelation of classes and postponement of graduation, he’s glad he attended Wesley.
“Freshmen year to now, I’m glad that I was able to explore college and what it came with,” he said. “Some classes made me push myself in others, I failed some classes and that kind of messed me up, but I continued to push and learned you only control what you can control.”
Moving To Online Difficult For Some
Online classes seem to have made learning more difficult for many students.
Senior Emily Garret said in-person classes are much better than online.
“I do not like the online classes,” she said. “I am a type of person who needs hands-on help and with online classes I am basically teaching myself and I don’t like it.”
Junior Amanda Curry said she was fine with online classes.
“It’s just the professors,” she said. “I don’t think that we’re ready at all for the classes, like they couldn’t understand what to do or explain things out properly.”
Sophomore Jason Sommer echoed Curry.
“It is hard because some teachers really don’t know how to operate online classes,” he said. “Also, you don’t have the interaction between student and teacher, which to me makes the learning process harder.”
Junior Thomas Suarez said online classes are weird.
“It doesn’t feel like I have schoolwork to do because I am home,” he said. “The hardest part for me remembering I have school work to do and it’s not a vacation.”
Junior Andrew Greenly said he wants to be back on campus.
“I feel like we are not getting the education we paid for,” he said. “If I wanted online schooling I would have signed up for that.”
Professor Craig said he’s worried about some of his students online.
“I know some are pretty stressed out by all this,” he said. “It can be a lot to deal with, and it means juggling tasks in a new way. There are some students I do not hear as much from, and that worries me. I know some are in tough spots with resources.”
Senior Edward Major said online is not good for his major.
“It is a rough transition because in accounting everything is done better face to face,” he said. “She shows you how to do the problems, how to do calculations, how to write the journals. Her explaining that through email is kind of difficult because some people may not get it the first time around and need that face to face interaction.”
Dr. Kathy Curran, professor of biology, said she is not comfortable doing classes online.
“I think I am actually spending more time working than when I am not doing it online,” she said. “I have been recording lectures and posting them. I have had to convert my exams into take-homes. Converting labs to online has been the hardest. I find it to be very impersonal, and would prefer not to ever have to do it again.”
Dr. Cynthia Newton, professor of political science, said moving her classes online was not too challenging, but it’s not the same.
“Much is lost in not having face-to-face meetings with students,” she said. “So much of my teaching centers on this in-person interaction. I also miss my students a lot and worry about them.”
Sophomore De’Andre Davis said adjusting to home has its ups and downs.
“My family has to adapt to me every time I come home because I eat three times more than all of them,” he said. “But they always find a way to work it out, and they’ve done pretty good so far.”
At least one professor said it’s close to the way she’s lived before.
“Being on lockdown is not that much different than my ordinary life,” English professor Susan Bobby said.
“I am a homebody by nature, and other than going to work, I’m not a person who socializes much, if ever, because those with whom I would be socializing are out of state. I spend my free time knitting, stitching, reading, and writing—all solitary activities.”
Although Provost Jeffrey Gibson said he still goes to campus, he misses personal interaction.
“It’s nice to have the technology that allows us to stay connected, but I already miss the face-to-face interactions with my colleagues and students,” he said.
He said that there is little difference in his duties. But the campus has felt a little strange.
“It’s quite bizarre to be on a campus with so very few people around,” he said.
Sports On Hold
Redshirt sophomore women’s lacrosse player Hanna Giaccone wasn’t expecting to have her season stop unexpectedly, especially with her team’s 4-1 success.
“We were unstoppable,” she said. “We all had the same mentality to practice how we play and play with everything we got like it was our last – and eventually, sooner than any of us thought, it would be it was our last.”
Giaccone said she and her teammates didn’t know it was their last game while playing it.
“It was just like one day we were all playing and practicing, and the next day coach had us in the locker room telling us we were done after the hours of work, sweat and pain we put in.”
Sophomore Dom Williams missed the baseball season this year, and said he’s worried about the future of the school.
“I hope the school gets the funds that it needs in order to keep running so we can continue to chase our dreams while receiving an education,” he said. “I plan on continuing to work hard and to prove myself both in the classroom and on the playing fields.”
Williams said he’s learned a lot from shut-down and eagerly anticipates the school opening again.
“I see us coming back locked in and ready to pick up where we left off,” he said. “But I’ll be even hungrier, not taking the little things for granted like some of us may have before – like being able to just be on campus playing the sports we love.”
Junior Jaimilyn Snyder said she misses playing soccer.
“I’ve been playing the sport since I was 5 and it has had a huge impact on my life,” she said. “ I was excited to participate in the spring season because this would be one step further away from being my senior year, but now I just need to focus on bettering myself for the next season.”
Sophomore football player De’andre Davis said he was looking forward to the fall.
“I see us finishing out this year strong academically, and going back to camp in the fall and grinding to prepare for the season,’ she said. “Hopefully the school is able to stay up and running long enough for us to graduate.”
Sophomore Tyler Poulson said he expects things to get better.
“In the future I see the world becoming a better place,” he said. “It will get worse before it gets better, but I see people opening their eyes about things now.”
Dr. D’Antonio said she has never faced this predicament and is worried about the future.
“Uncertainty is difficult to deal with,” she said. “I am worried about people’s health and finances and I am simply not sure how long this will go on. We’ve not had to deal with anything quite like this in my lifetime. It is scary and worrisome.”
Junior Rakiya Taylor perhaps said it the most simply.
“I just miss my friends, that’s all,” she said.