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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

One year later: Coping with COVID

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since the coronavirus invaded our lives.  The pandemic changed the way we work, interact, teach, study, etc.  The way we live. 

It all happened so fast. 

March 12, 2020. Here in Ohio, Dayton mayor Nan Whaley '98, declared a state of emergency.

March 20, 2020. The state confirms 247 cases of coronavirus.

March 20, 2020. UD president Eric Spina sends out a video message saying, “at the urging of state and local health authorities, it has become painfully clear that we must extend remote learning through the remainder of the spring semester and postpone May commencement activities.”

Spina added, “this is a painful moment in the history of our beloved university.”

Nearly one year later, students in Sister Angela Ann Zukowski's class titled, Faith, Vocation, and the Arts, via zoom, reflect back on the pandemic year and what lies ahead.

Elena Niese, ’22

Major: adolescent to young adult English education, minor in theology 
Hometown: Miller City, OH 

“I think one positive aspect that has come out of this coronavirus pandemic is a new understanding of gratitude. With the ability to connect with others being rather limited, I have learned to appreciate each individual interaction with a classmate.  Just eating lunch with someone is such a gift. I think the pandemic situation really helped me lean into intentional relationships and to be grateful for every daily interaction.” 

Bridget Graham, ’22

Major: political science and human rights studies
Hometown: Kansas City

“For me, the pandemic made me lose confidence in a personal sense because I don’t have the reassurance from friends. When you have to be isolated, sometimes it’s easier to convince yourself that you don’t have those relationships.  I feel like this time last year I was pretty sure what path I wanted to take for my future.  Now because I haven’t really had opportunities for other experiences, I really don’t know my plan for the future.  I'm trying to find comfort in the idea of not knowing and the idea that this might lead me on a more interesting and better path but it’s still hard to grapple with that loss of confidence and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen.”

Mary Connor, ’22

Major: visual arts and French
Hometown: Wadsworth, OH

“I have found that my biggest fear of COVID-19 has been the fog of uncertainty. I have adjusted to the limitations of COVID-19 and have found the restrictions are just another part of my daily routine. Putting on a mask on my way out the door and practicing social distancing at events is the norm for me.  I have not been isolated or lonely despite the quarantine since I am living with a wonderful community- Faith, Vocation and Leadership house. We are an intentional community who host events to encourage faith on campus and have community and prayer time weekly. I am very blessed, though I am wondering what I can do to help those who are not in the same situation.”

Anna Biesecker-Mast, ’22

Major: English and history double major with religious studies and women's and gender studies minor
Hometown: Dayton

“I would say, as college students, the pandemic has severely restricted our capacity to experience things like we’re supposed to. We’re supposed to be traveling and participating in internships, gaining real life experience, and using it to narrow down what we want to do with our lives after UD. It just seems like two summers in a row and really this whole year, we have not been able to take part in any of those experiences. The pandemic has caused unpredictability of the future.  As a result, I feel like I have little to no control over my life.”

Kayla Lenahan, ’22

Major: accounting major, religious studies minor
Hometown: Cleveland

“I feel like so many of those things that are supposed to help ground us and make everything worth it in college have been taken away from us.  Being able to see different faces on campus and forge relationships really embody the UD community.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this has changed. The UD community is still strong but it's very difficult to be fully present amidst zoom fatigue, especially with the insane amount of studies and work. Learning online with zoom is just so different, and it's so easy to lose focus with weary eyes and mental exhaustion, so trying to navigate living through a pandemic, on top of all the other stressors college adds, has been difficult.” 

As of this writing, the Ohio Department of Health reports 972,605  COVID-19 cases with 16,750 deaths.


Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min, is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives (1978-present) including the online faith formation program, VLCFF.UDayton.edu.   Grow in Faith with online classes held year-round. Only $10 a week for UD alumni, and free for UD faculty/staff through the HR employee program.

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