Year of COVID-19 sets students back


A group of UK students walks in front of White Hall Classroom Building on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hannah Stanley

Kentucky marked one year of COVID-19 on Saturday, March 6. The pandemic’s impact is wide-ranging and keenly felt by students at the University of Kentucky. Loss and grief aside, the pandemic has set students back in educational and social settings. They had to reinvent their college experience after struggling with isolation in the beginning of the pandemic.

“I definitely think Greek life and rushing helped because you’re able to meet more people,” freshman Megan Sweeney said.

Sweeney was already planning to rush, but said the social benefits gravitated her more firmly to the idea of being involved in a sorority.

“I’m glad I stuck with it because I was able to meet a lot of people through Gamma Chi,” Sweeney said.

Many freshmen have felt at a loss of meeting new friends and being a part of the university. At a larger SEC school like UK, the involvement within the community is crucial to feel a sense of belonging – one limited by COVID-19.

“I feel that COVID has made me feel more isolated and out of tune with the world,” freshman Lauren James said,

Daily routines and actions have also shifted what was once normal, an even more abrupt shift than that from high school to college. even further than the shift from high school to a college life.

“I’ve had to change my routine a lot,” said Angie Chaparr. “I’ve definitely had to be a lot more conscientious of everything I do.”

These limitations have extended to academic experiences like shadowing opportunities, internships, and volunteer hours.

“I need a lot of hands-on experience to get into my career, and it’d affected me a lot because I haven’t been able to do that,” freshman Kendall Reiniche said.

Reiniche is headed towards the pre-PA track where volunteer hours are crucial to advance in her  career. She later said she has missed the opportunity to shadow which would also advance her further in her desired career.

Chicago native Austin Short is a sophomore at University of a Kentucky and mentions the changes of quarantine limitations from those back home to those at school.

“I’m not playing basketball every week, I’m not going to the gym everyday, I hate having to wear my mask everyday,” Short said.

But Short remained optimistic about the future.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the next few months to just have fun and for everything to open up again,” Short said.

With one year of COVID-19 experienced, students like Short have dealt with significant disruptions to their lives but have overall adapted to the new normal. Part of that adaption is feeling hopeful for the rest of the year, so that they and their peers can build back these missed experiences.