Freshmen, transfer students’ first year on campus curtailed

Emily Broyles, Reporter

The new coronavirus halted graduation, sports games and daily class schedules for students. For some freshman and transfer students, their first-year experience at App State was cut short. 

“I worked so hard to get to where I am today, or where I was, living on my own in the residence halls, creating my own experiences, taking that initiative by myself. Now, it’s like all my hard work is basically compromised because of the coronavirus,” said Cassady Trump, a freshman.

On March 11, App State announced it would extend its spring break and move classes online beginning March 23. In an email sent to students, the university encouraged students “to remain at home or on campus” after the extended break. 

Trump, a physics major who transferred to App State this spring, said while she knows of some friends that were able to stay on campus for special circumstances, she wishes she could be there too, as the situation was “surreal” to her at first. 

“My home life, it’s not necessarily that it isn’t healthy, it’s just a lot of emotions,” said Trump, who is now living at home in Apex. “The fact that there’s a quarantine and everything, so you have to stay in your house, and then that worsens your mental health because you can’t go out and see your friends, you can’t really do anything, you just feel like you’re kind of stuck.”

Junior anthropology major Litzy Acevedo-Gama said that in quarantine, taking care of her three family members under the age of 10 comes before any online school work due that day.

“I would like some distance from my family, in a way. I guess now it’s hard to actually focus in school since I don’t have that quiet time in my room, like my dorm,”Acevedo-Gama said. “It sucks.”

Acevedo-Gama said she is a junior in credits, but it is her first year at a four-year university. She said that while she considers herself to “live in the moment,” she hoped to stay a full year at App State and “didn’t think it was going to get this far.” 

“I decided to visit a criminal justice class (the) Monday after spring break, and now I can’t go to that to see if I want to add it as my major, which I’m very sad about,” Acevedo-Gama said. “It’s put me in a hard situation too for that.”

Trump and Acevedo-Gama said they are leaning on their friends for advice and share their experiences, particularly with mental health.

“When I was in Boone, my mental health was so much better because I was finally getting that freedom and that independence that I needed,” Trump said. “Having to come back and have it all compromised and even worse because your parents are paranoid that they’re going to get sick? You feel like it is your civil duty, but at the same time you need to take care of yourself too, so you don’t know really what to do, and you’re kind of conflicted.” 

Acevedo-Gama said she misses the freedom she had in Boone and “just walking around, even if it was snowing.”

“I just don’t like it here,” Acevedo-Gama said about living in Davie County.

Trump said she is disappointed the Luke Combs concert will likely be canceled, but is looking forward to football season and seeing her friends again.

“I’m honestly just really excited to get back into the groove and get to start my own life again,” Trump said.“Finally getting to have the university experience and having that freedom and then having it yanked from your heart and soul is just, has left me dead honestly.

Director of common reading and first year seminar professor Don Presnell wrote in an email that he can’t imagine how students are feeling “at this point in such an important transitional year.”

 “The biggest effect on me is that I miss the personal interaction with my students,” Presnell said. “Everyone on campus is learning how to work in new and different ways. For faculty, that means revisiting and reviewing assignments and learning outcomes and objectives, not to mention clear and specific communication. Online instruction is important, but more important is that we are still being intentional with and connected to our students.”

Presnell said first-year students can reach out to their academic advisers, course instructors, Office of Student Success, University Writing Center, Student Learning Center and library, as all resources have switched over to online communication.

“All of us are here to help you succeed,” Presnell said.