The Crusader Newspaper Group

A health crisis that taught me more than the college classroom

Elae Hill is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism at North Carolina A&T State University. Hill served as a 2019 summer intern at the Chicago Crusader as part of the Discover The Unexpected (DTU) summer internship program sponsored by General Motors. He lives in Greensboro, N.C.

By Elae Hill

As a student at North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina remains very quiet. I often hear police sirens and garbage trucks outside my house but it’s much different now. North Carolina A&T students were dismissed from the campus about two weeks ago.

There are still more than 250 students left on the campus in honors dormitories. This housing space was allotted to students who can’t go home because of financial issues or because of a health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.

As the virus spread through the country, Greensboro tightened its rules to promote social distancing.

As a full-time student, I worked an average of nine hours a week at a call center where I solicited alumni to donate to the school. I lost my work study job after classes were canceled for the rest of the semester.

At first, the school planned to allow us to work our own schedule so we could earn enough money to weather these tough times. But subsequently, the UNC school system insisted that everyone pack up, go home and stay healthy.

Since then, I have struggled to find money to live, eat and pay rent on my apartment. I don’t live with my parents, so I have little support to fall back on.

After the school closed, classes were moved online for the rest of the semester. Most students at North Carolina A&T State University think that’s a crazy idea. We all hate the fact that school was shut down, but we understand.

I find the online classes more tedious and less helpful with certain classes because of the lack of personal interaction. The interpersonal communication experienced in a classroom is important for understanding the course material and for the socialization.

With the switch to online classes, I’ve been limited in my ability to network with other students, which is very important during a college student’s life. The entire world seems to be at a standstill, but life continues, and internships which sometimes offer a financial lifeline are still being offered. Hopefully, I will find one.

Monday morning March 30, the school sent out an update, informing students that refunds will be delivered to those with balances on their meal plans. Unfortunately, the news didn’t apply to me. I live off campus in an apartment and didn’t have a meal plan this semester.

Recently, the city of Greensboro issued a mandatory stay-at-home order until the end of April. There’s extra emphasis on social distancing here. Restaurants have closed, but those with drive thru services remain in business. During a time like this, it’s very easy to get complacent, so I try each day to stay focused on something new, like reading a book, learning a new skill or working on my craft.

I’m constantly following the news from newspapers and television. Essential supplies in my neighborhood grocery stores are always hard to find because of the demand from desperate shoppers.

Every morning, I make a list of new things to get done for the day. I give myself time to relax, cope, and just appreciate life. I’m practicing social distancing, washing my hands and keeping everything around me clean as a good citizen in the fight to not spread the coronavirus.

I anticipate looking back on the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 as a graduate level course in how to survive the unexpected, the frightening, the worst.

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