Fatou Diedhiou smiles with Capstone House in the background

Hindsight 2020: The freshman

Gamecocks reflect on how COVID-19 changed their jobs and how they work

This summer, Carolinian magazine reached out to a cross-section of alumni, faculty, staff and students to ask how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their work, and their workplace philosophies. Capstone scholar Fatou Diedhiou of Greenville is majoring in public health and has an eye on medical school. She got COVID at the start of her freshman year and spent 10 days in quarantine but made the most of her first year. “Honestly, I like college so much,” she says. “I am learning from the smartest people. I get to meet people from other parts of the country and the world. It’s just a different experience from anything I’ve ever had.”

Last summer before we got to campus, I didn’t really do anything. I worked a little — maybe twice a week — and sometimes I would drive to a friend’s house and just stand in the driveway and say hey. Other than that, I didn’t do anything — because I was scared. 

I got COVID a week and a half into school, but there were so many people who got it then. There was really no way to escape it. I was very sick. I had 104-degree fever a couple nights. I had really bad sinus issues. I was horribly fatigued. And there were four of us in quarantine living together for 10 days. We had a kitchen. I was lucky that two of my sister’s friends lived in the area, so they brought me groceries, and some of my friends brought me food. But basically, it was two rooms, four girls, and we just had to live with each other and be sick. 

In my first semester, the only class I had in person was University 101, and I would look forward to that every single week. It was something we could do together, and it was academic — and I made a lot of friends. 

What I learned during the pandemic was about selfishness and creativity, how some people can be selfish and not want to do the things they need to do to keep themselves and other people safe. But I also learned that we can still have fun and do things if we are a little more creative. 

I lived in Capstone, and we could still have a Valentine’s Day event where you could make cards for friends and there were little candy bags. We had an event called March Marathon that if you walked a set number of miles that month, you got a free T-shirt. It was just something small you could do with your friends. It was just the university and our residence hall finding ways to make sure we had a good experience. I actually had a great time during the pandemic; I can’t imagine how it would be regularly.

I want to be a doctor, and I chose public health as my major because the majority of health problems are not going to be some rare disease you never heard of that happens to like 10 people a year. It’s going to be how to fight off the basic flu, how to make sure people are healthier as a whole. I like learning about the general things we can do to make people healthier and live a better life.

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