Q&A: Students exemplifying resilience during COVID-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus threatens health and upends daily life, members of the UofSC community are rising to the challenge with a spirit of resilience and concern for others. See more stories. 

With campus closed and social distancing in full effect, students have had to adapt when it comes to managing virtual academics along with their other commitments. We caught up with three students who have shown resilience and resourcefulness when it comes to navigating their lives during a pandemic.

Joseph Leonard

Joseph Leonard is a senior journalism student who is currently finishing his Senior Semester capstone experience from home in Lexington, S.C. Along with reporting, Leonard is working at the frontlines as a part-time janitor at a family doctor’s care office.

In what ways has the Carolina News and Reporter team had to adapt and be resourceful while reporting from home?

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way all of us at the Carolina News and Reporter work. We used to have a newsroom morning meeting where we would talk story ideas, give show rundowns and just chat about our lives and what we had going on. Now, instead of us dressed up and sitting at our newsroom desks, we're on Zoom in pajamas or a T-shirt from our beds, couches or living room chairs every morning.

On the multimedia side of Carolina News and Reporter, we've all had to switch to phone calls instead of face-to-face interviews, which is convenient, however, the face-to-face interaction gives us as reporters a better glimpse of whom our interviewee is. With all that said, I think we've still been able to put out some really interesting and great stories, however, I do miss seeing everyone.

What has it been like reporting at home compared with working together in-person in the newsroom?

For me, it's been challenging to get motivated working from home when Netflix is a click away or my pets are waiting next to me to be played with. It's been a challenge, but it's giving us a chance to prove to future employers how we can adapt and still create good journalism. I've been reaching out to sources through phone and email mostly, but social media is playing a large part as well. Since most South Carolinians are home, it seems as if they'd be more accessible but that's not always the case.

What has it been like working at a doctor’s office during a pandemic?

I thought I was cautious before, but now I'm really paying attention to what I touch and how often I'm washing my hands. I've always worn gloves as a janitor but now I've decided to wear a mask as well. The doctor's office I'm cleaning now has three COVID-19 testing rooms and even when I walk past them it's a bit eerie. However, we're using bleach and hopefully, we're doing our part and as much to disinfect the offices and keep people as safe as we can. 

Elizabeth Thompson

Elizabeth Thompson is a senior computer engineering major and Group X fitness instructor. Thompson teaches Body Attack, HIIT, Bootcamp and Cycle classes. Despite closed gyms, Thompson and other instructors are continuing to teach classes, but in a new, safe way. 

How have Group X classes changed since campus closed and how can students access them?

Group X Classes are now taught live through Instagram instead of in person. Group X Classes still allow for the same great workout from the safety of our homes. Group X offers a wide variety of classes such as Simply Cardio, Kickboxing, HIIT, Bootcamp, Bodypump, Bodycombat, Bare, Cardio Dance and more.

These live classes can be accessed through the UofSC Campus Rec Instagram. Workouts are streamed every weekday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and the class schedules are published weekly.

Why is it important to exercise especially during isolation/social distancing?

In general, exercising is so important for both our physical and mental health. Staying physically active during isolation and social distancing is a great way to maintain a sense of normalcy and well-being. Exercising is great for reducing the stress and anxiety that occurs as a result of isolation and social distancing. Despite gyms being closed, we can stay active in various ways through the Instagram Live Group X classes, Les Mills On Demand workouts, self-led home workouts or walking and running outside. Exercising is amazing for improving your mood, confidence and energy levels. 

What are your tips for staying active and motivated?

  • Find exercises you like, because you will be more motivated to do it.
  • Try new exercises. Use Instagram Live Group X classes to try a new class.
  • Make a lit workout playlist. Great music can take a workout to a whole new level.
  • Facetime friends or family and workout together. Don’t lose your gym buddies just because you can’t physically be in the same room. Use technology and schedule a workout together.
  • When you get bored do a quick physical challenge. For example, a 1-minute plank, 25 push-ups or 50 jumping jacks.

Liz Powers

Senior nursing major Liz Powers is staying on track to graduate by wrapping up her nursing clinicals online with virtual simulations.

How have nursing clinicals changed now that all instruction is virtual?

Now that instruction is all virtual, we have online simulation instead. Online simulation varies each week, but we spend around 12 hours on our computers handling virtual patient scenarios, filling out medication templates and completing learning modules and other tasks to simulate patient care. It’s definitely an adaptation from in-person clinical. Since our career is heavily based on handling real-life scenarios and acting accordingly, it is a little scary that we are unable to finish our in-person clinicals, but I’m grateful for our faculty and what they’ve done to simulate these hours.

What challenges have you faced? Have there been any positives?

There are definitely challenges with virtual clinical. The final semester of nursing is where you really perfect all your clinical skills and take on the full workload of the nurse. For in-person clinical, there is always something to do and you are constantly on the move. I find myself needing frequent breaks to stay focused for online clinical. Finally, I miss my floor that I was on for capstone. I was able to work with the pediatric PACU nurses at Prisma Health Richland. Because I want to work in pediatrics, this floor was amazing for me and I felt so comfortable there. It’s been hard to leave the floor and my clinical preceptor without warning.

One positive aspect of virtual clinical is the flexibility. Our faculty has been extremely flexible and understanding of our feelings during this time. Plus, we don’t have to do all 12 hours in one sitting, which is great for me because I do get distracted easily on the computer.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Despite how disappointing this whole situation has been, I am more grateful than ever to be in the health care field. I am so inspired by all the stories I hear on the news or from friends and family about the sacrifices health care workers have made in order to fight COVID-19. For example, my roommate graduated in December and is currently caring for COVID patients on her ICU floor. She’s had to give up a lot in order to treat these patients, yet she still has one of the most positive attitudes I’ve ever seen. We need more people like her and all other health care workers in this world.

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