The COVID-19 Chronicles: Reflections on the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

For our Eastern community, most of 2020 has been a whirlwind of continual reset: leaving campus in the middle of the Spring semester, adjusting to virtual teaching and learning, updating policies and protocols, then returning to campus in the Fall and attempting to establish a new sense of “normal” in these very “un-normal” times.

But this season of change and reset is not one that has just happened on a university and global scale, but on an intimate, personal level as well. 

In an effort to reflect on, document, and share personal experiences, our Eastern family was asked to reflect on their time during this season and share what they’ve learned, how they’ve managed to stay connected with others, and how they’ve experienced a reset in their perspective of the world around them.

Colette: CAGS School Counseling ’21

Colette“This season of being homebound has been stressful, hopeful, and also inspirational. This time has enabled my husband and I to spend a great deal of time with our four-year-old son who has special needs and who was really struggling with school prior to COVID's arrival. My husband also lost his job unexpectedly in April due to COVID. However, I know that God has a plan, not solely for my family but for each of us if we are open to it. There are a lot of uncertainties, but this time at home has been a reset. A reset to my connection to God. A reset to my role as Mother. A reset as I try to show up for my husband. And a reset for my career as I work towards some big professional goals. I can't predict the future, but I do know that God didn't bring us this far to drop us.”

Ryan: Business ’23

Ryan“Over the summer, I really took seriously my hobby of mountain biking with my brother. It was a great way to get outside and be together, but still stay socially distanced from others. Through these trips, I grew closer to my brother and was able to discover something that I have a passion for. Going through a summer of quarantine made me realize that I should not take seeing someone every day for granted. I have been pushed to grow my relationships past the level of just greeting each other every day into something deeper. It has also given me a new-found love of being outdoors, and a consciousness for the environment. Both of these help me feel grounded moving forward because I know I have a place I can retreat to and get my thoughts together.”

Desirae: Pre-med/Psychology ’22

Desirae“I think the biggest takeaway from this COVID season was seeing that I have a support system. As someone who likes to plan ahead, this virus has actually made me realize that not all things go according to plan and that’s okay, because God has bigger plans for me and for those around me. I think being a COVID tester helped stretch me in a way that I cannot grasp. I love helping even if it is risking my own health for others to become mentally and physically stronger. Being a part of the Latino culture, family is one of the biggest values that we carry. During the pandemic to ensure family safety, my family would stay home and have game nights every Thursday. During our game night zoom calls, my cousin would host while my titis, my mom, brother, sister, and primas would go on and play. We had a lot of fun!”

Jeff: Professor of Biochemistry

Jeff“The closure of campus meant that for the first time in 14 years, we were not able to operate our Summer Research Program on campus in the Chemistry and Biology Departments. For me, this is one of the highlights of the academic year. Thankfully, an opportunity arose to collaborate virtually throughout the summer with my student Logan McEntire (Biochemistry '21) as we worked together on a computer-based project. Logan carried out the work from his home and we met regularly by Zoom to discuss his results and plan next steps. This helped to restore a bit of normalcy in the midst of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.”

Ashley: Nursing ’22

Ashley“One of my biggest takeaways from this COVID-19 season is that anything can happen unexpectedly. You really have no idea how tomorrow or the next week is going to go. However, I have been able to grow both spiritually and personally during this time. Although quarantine was annoying, it gave me some alone time to talk to Jesus more. This summer has helped me to reset my perspective on a lot of things, one of the main ones being that it has helped me reset my relationship with Christ. This summer has allowed me to learn more about how Jesus feels about me, and what he wants for my life. Without quarantine, I doubt that would have happened.”

Emily: Exercise Science ’24

Emily“During this time, I've been able to serve virtually as a student leader at my youth group. I was able to have more meaningful conversations with friends and family, too. My family and I would even have movie nights during quarantine – that's something we'd never do. Personally, I have experienced exponential growth in my faith this past year. I've been able to serve people via Zoom and help those feeling emotional. Many people would say “this is the worst year ever,” but witnessing the amount of challenges people have overcome this past year, I would say this was a year of growth, and it showed how much people came together as one in these times of need.”

Marie: Early Childhood Studies ’20

Marie“My relationship with God suffered at the beginning of the pandemic because I didn't know what He was trying to teach me. It's hard to hear God with a lot of noise in my head and loss in my heart. I lost my mother in April and my dad passed in May. I miss my parents so much, but I know that God has plans for all those left behind. I pray more, stay in the Word, and apply the Bible to my reaction to what I see around me. I talk to my sons and pray for them to be safe and live a life of peace and happiness. We need to rely on God now more than ever before to guide us, heal us, and love us.”

Jabre: Youth Ministry & Biblical Studies ’22

Jabre“Even as we are walking through the valley, God is always there with us walking with us. We're not walking through the darkness – we're walking through light because God is shining His light on us as we go. I've been able to grow both spiritually and personally through prayer, praise, spending time with God, sharing daily devotions on Facebook, and being active.”

Megan: Student Ministries

Megan“When the pandemic hit I was desperate to do something to help, so I signed up as a volunteer with the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). I have had several deployments from April through the summer, serving at the quarantine and isolation location in Center City for people experiencing homelessness and coming from rehab who had been diagnosed positive for COVID-19. In August I was invited to be a Volunteer Captain for the MRC based on my previous service in my deployments and will continue to volunteer with them this fall in flu vaccine clinics and when we get a COVID-19 vaccine.”

This article was originally featured in the Fall 2020 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.