Graduating seniors reflect on COVID-19

Author: Kim Holland '20 and Sabrina Tartaglia '21

Published Date: 5/1/2020

Categories: Alumni Pioneers Persevere Students


Senior students '20
It is evident that the year 2020 will be one to remember. During these trying times, we reached out to soon-to-be young alumni from Carroll’s Class of 2020 as they share their thoughts on how the global pandemic affected their final days at Carroll and where they go from here.
Before we begin, what are you studying?

Benjamin Dehne: Biology with Minors in Biochemistry and Political Science.
Anthony Tirrell: Music Therapy with a Minor in Film and Television.
Evelyn Fornagiel: Biology Major with a Biochemistry Minor and Pre-Dental Emphasis.
Vicky Patino: Nursing Major with a Spanish Minor.

What are some thoughts from the last four weeks?

Dehne: It’s unfortunate but I’m doing all I can to make the best of these circumstances. I’m at home with my family which I never thought would happen again. Over winter break thought it was the last time with everyone together. Now this came up and we’re connecting a lot! We’re playing board games and card games and are making the most out of having this time together.

Tirell: These last few weeks have been very stressful. I am an essential worker so I have to balance school with work in a way that I was not ready for. Professors seem to think that we all have more time but it is the opposite for me. I actually have less time than normal. I am not able to see my friends or family. Being a music major means that I depend a lot on my ensemble classes. They are all not running so I don't get to have that last concert to feel proud about.

Fornagiel: The past four weeks have definitely been pretty wild. I was very upset to find out that I would not be able to participate in several senior activities that I had been looking forward to since being a freshman. The fact that commencement would now be held virtually and that I would not get a chance to walk as a first-generation college student at my graduation made me incredibly sad. As the weeks have gone by, I have had a lot of time to reflect and cherish the positive memories that I have made in my three years of undergrad. I understand the importance of staying home to not only keep ourselves safe and healthy but also our loved ones.

Patino: As a student pursuing the medical field in addition to currently working in the setting, the past four weeks have been extremely overwhelming. In addition to switching to online classes, I have faced the challenges all healthcare professionals are facing, as an ER tech.

How has quarantine and COVID-19 changed your path for after graduation?

Dehne: Places I have applied to are holding off on the hiring process. Nothing good to say, more complicated than anything.

Tirell: For after graduation I am still not entirely sure what to do. I am hoping that where I currently work will lead into my internship. There has not been any real good or bad effect to come from quarantine.

Fornagiel: After graduation, I plan on attending Midwestern University in the DDM program to become a dentist. I have been receiving several emails from Midwestern regarding classes in the fall and that it is still up in the air whether classes will continue to be held online. It is difficult for dental students to transition to online learning because first-year students are required to practice their fine motor skills in simulation labs with dental procedures that they will be doing in clinical their third and fourth years. These cannot be done without being in the simulation lab, so I wonder how the school will take that into account.

Patino: Being in quarantine has definitely changed my senior year in multiple ways. Being a first-generation college student, it truly affected me as my family will no longer be able to see me walk across the stage to get the diploma I have worked so hard for. I also am missing out on many of my "last" activities, from Spring Fling to the Nursing Pinning Ceremony. All the lasts, that I have looked forward to the second I started my adventure at Carroll University. In regard to post-graduation, I now am unsure as to when I will be able to take the NCLEX. Due to the COVID regulations, testing centers were closed for a period of time and now they have changed the guidelines of the testing centers, including how many individuals are allowed to take it at a time. This now further pushes back my ability to take the NCLE and start my new profession as a registered nurse.

Is there anything that has come out of this as a silver lining, such as new skill, connecting with family, lessons learned, giving back, or going to simpler things?

Dehne: Focusing on more simple things—having more time at home has allowed me to listen to new music, and listen to full albums. I’ve loved doing that! Another silver lining is my internship at MCW. It sucks not being more involved but I can still join in on their team meetings and work on projects from home. They’ve made sure I can get the most out of my experience. Also, the diversity and being able to adapt towards adversity will help in interviews. They’ll probably ask about how I handled everything that’s happened.

Tirell: I have not experienced a silver lining. Things have been more stressful, more complicated and overall just a mess to figure out and work through everything.

Fornagiel: Being able to stay at home, I have been able to finish several books that I have started over the summer and have not had enough time to complete. Also, I live with my parents and we have started making dinners together on the weekends as a way to connect more.

Patino: During this quarantine, I have had time to stay on top of my homework assignments in addition to working. Although the times are tough at work, it is definitely amazing to see the unity between healthcare professionals and the support we receive from others.

If historians in 2120 looked back to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, what are some thoughts you would like them to know about the pandemic and the state of the world to capture everything you’re feeling?

Dehne: We always have things like the Great Depression. I see this as the Great Pause—all of our lives are being put on hold. The normal thing in life is that we’re all swept up in it, and can’t enjoy the little things. We should look back at this and appreciate the time we were given and that we made the most of it.

Tirell: I feel like COVID-19 has ruined my college experience and has taken something away from me that I will never be able to get back, no matter what way someone tries to fix it or get us back those lost moments.

Fornagiel: I think that this pandemic is definitely going to have a severe impact on many cultures. People will have to adjust their ways of living for sure. I cannot wait for the day that I will be able to meet up with my friends and sorority sisters and give them big hugs.

Patino: I would describe these previous weeks to be a time of unknown. We have no control of what is occurring and we don't know what will happen.

Support the Student Emergency Fund

During this time of need, you can help students dealing with emergency situations related to the COVID-19 virus through the Student Emergency Fund. Your support will provide critical financial relief to Carroll students and families as we collectively navigate this crisis.

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In Difficult Times, PIONEERS Persevere