On March 11, 2020, Nicole Clermont, LSEHD ‘22, attended her classes as she normally did. Her professor followed his usual routine of teaching for a fraction of class and then allowing students to discuss amongst themselves about the content. When the discussion part of the class came around, Clermont noticed something different. Students were murmuring in a way like never before. She felt something was up and she wondered if she should check her phone to see if anything big happened. Before she could make up her mind, she was pulled back to reality when her professor continued his lecture. A couple of minutes later, a classmate caught Clermont’s attention and whispered to her, “We’re going home”.
March 11, 2021 marks one year since Boston College’s President William P. Leahy sent an email informing undergraduates that their spring semester would be cut short due to the start of what would become a pandemic. Students came out of dining halls carrying full packs of Powerade and Honest Tea in a desperate attempt to deplete their dining funds. The Mods were full of seniors who were devastated to hear that their time on the Heights had come to an untimely end. It was as though the world had flipped upside down.
After wearing masks and becoming familiarized with Zoom for quite some time, the “new normal” seems a little less new and a bit more normal. While life is certainly different, the BC community has found a way to continue life on campus.
For Clermont, the immediate change was a little off-putting at first. As someone who typically interacts with those who are directly around her, she did not know how she would maintain strong relationships with both the people at home as well as her BC friends. The pandemic forced her to consciously put in the effort to communicate with others more than ever before, and it made her realize the power of humanity during dark times.
“We are all struggling," Clermont reflected. "We are all in this together. It’s given me a sense of hope that no matter what the world brings, everyone is going through it. It’s a very shocking event for everyone to go through together, but knowing that I don’t have to go through it alone helps."
Brian Gardner, CSOM ‘23, packed his bags with the rest of his class, forgoing the traditions that come with a normal spring semester. Even though he returned to his home in Massachusetts, he found himself talking about BC every weekday as a summer employee for the Student Admission Program (SAP). He worked remotely, but was allowed to come to campus once a week to do a live virtual tour that was broadcasted to hundreds of high school students.
Gardner was part of a team of 17 other summer SAP undergraduates who were supposed to work and live on campus for the summer but instead interacted and got to know each other through their laptop screens.
“I would have liked the opportunity to be on campus and meet my colleagues in person before going to school for the next [academic] year, but I was happy to have something to do. I was fortunate enough to wake up and have a purpose in my day” Gardner stated.
Since the summer, Gardner has met his colleagues on campus and continues to be in contact with many of them. He hopes to experience BC’s spring traditions such as Showdown and Marathon Monday next year.
Shan Rizwan, MCAS ‘21, is savoring his last few months as a BC senior. After a year of staying inside, following safety protocols, and spending an inordinate amount of time on board games with his roommates, Rizwan finds time to reflect on some of the lessons that he might not have learned if his life was not forced to take a pause.
“A pandemic can change everything up and then you might not be able to do the things you wanted to do anymore," Rizwan said. "Seize the moment and every opportunity."
As a video creator, Rizwan has made several BC-themed YouTube videos before and during the pandemic. He encounters the expected struggles of interviewing undergraduates in a time when social distancing is the standard. With other challenges such as not as many people walking around and not being able to travel as much as he would like, Rizwan continues to find creative ways to make his videos as engaging as possible.
The BC community has come a long way since March 11, 2020. With vaccines being distributed around the world, we are finally catching a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. While life has and always will be unpredictable, Rizwan has a simple yet meaningful goal for what he wants this time next year that many other students likely share: “To be happy.”