Hajim students talk about learning remotely

July 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the University of Rochester to switch to remote learning in March 2020 for the remainder of the spring semester. Students had to adjust to a new way of doing things. The transition went more smoothly for some than others, but for all, it was a challenge to say goodbye to their college home beside the Genesee. They coped in different ways, by enjoying more time with family, delving into a passion like music, or finding new perspective amidst a time of self-reflection.

Here are comments gathered from Hajim School students during their separation from the campus.

chemical engineering major from Columbia, Maryland

Lonnie Garrett studying remotely

“Remote learning has been a really odd adjustment to make. I've taken over my parents’ dining room table and pretty much made it my own office.

"I'm just trying to make it through these last few days and find time to get outside and stay active. Of all my college experiences, those related to being a member of Rochester’s track and field program easily represent some of my most meaningful and defining ones. That's what made it so bittersweet when my time as an athlete came to an abrupt end in March.

"While I fully understand the need for the social distancing measures required to contain COVID-19, it will always sadden me that I missed out on some of those pivotal moments and memories with this truly special team. My first year, I tore my ACL early during the indoor season. At the time, I was afraid that along with losing the rest of the year, I had lost the opportunity to join the team culture.

"Instead, I was met with so much support from my teammates and coaches and ultimately made some of the friendships I hope to carry with me long after college. Being able to come back and represent the team at championship and national meets and trying to push myself to lead by example has been a tremendous privilege for me. I am so proud to have been a member of this team."

Lonnie, who served as a research assistant in the Optics Materials Lab at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, received First Team Liberty League honors as a long jumper and triple jumper with the varsity track and field team.

biomedical engineering major from New Delhi, India 

Ananya Goyal studying remotely

"I am currently living with my best friend, Liz, and her family in Connecticut! We spend a lot of time watching our favorite show, Project Runway, and hanging out with her two dogs. 

"I would like to go home back to India once the travel bans are lifted and the situation improves, and I am quite looking forward to seeing my family again. Even though I am saddened by the abrupt end to my senior year on campus and by graduation being canceled, I am grateful that my friends and family are healthy and safe at this moment. Also, knowing that there are people out there working to keep the world running puts things into perspective, because I personally feel that being quarantined is not the worst scenario.

"As for remote learning, it has been quite a time! I think we are all learning how to live in this virtual world, but I am happy that I can still take classes and continue some of the extra-curricular activities as before. With the pass/fail option comes a new sort of freedom and flexibility, and I find it very refreshing to take classes just for the sake of learning (especially since senioritis is very much real). 

"In the end, I'm very hopeful that things will get better soon, and once they do, I would love to just go back to Rochester for a proper goodbye!"

Learn more here about Goyal’s completion of the Grand Challenges Program.

computer science and linguistics double major from Brooklyn

Jason Katzner studying remotely

"When the University went to remote learning because of the coronavirus, I knew New York City would be hit hard, and I couldn't go home to be with my parents. Luckily, I had the option to move in with my girlfriend in Buffalo.

"I was fortunate that one of my Warner School courses was already online. Another was scheduled to start the week before break, so we hadn't settled into a routine there, either. My other classes have transitioned online without much fuss, though working on group projects has been challenging.

"I'm currently sequestered with my girlfriend, her housemate, and their two cats. My friends and I play tabletop games online as a way to stay in touch, and my extended family has also been hosting weekly Zoom check-ins. We're even doing a Passover "Zeder" (Zoom-seder).

"Adapting to this new life has been challenging, but I'm glad to have my friends and family just a video call away."

Katzner is in the five-year Guaranteed Rochester Accelerated Degree in Education (GRADE) program. 

mechanical engineering major from Edina, Minnesota

Kate Korslund

 “So far, the transition to remote learning has gone smoothly for me,” she says.  “I’m most impressed with my professors, both within engineering and the French department, who are being very flexible and supportive of students as we all adjust to this new reality. I’m sad about not getting to celebrate graduation with my friends in May but I know that we will find a time to celebrate when it is safe to do so.”

Read more here about Korslund’s journey as a Hajim student, volleyball athlete, and inspirational leader in our University community.

mechanical engineering major from Wilmington, Delaware

Nate Nickerson studying remotely

 “I’m staying in the house I’ve been renting in Rochester the past year and a half. Before all of this happened, I usually spent only a few hours each day in my room sleeping. If I was awake, I’d be on campus going to classes, working at WRUR (as chief engineer), or hanging with friends. Now, I’m here all of the time.

 "Remote classes are going well. It really helps that lectures are recorded so I can re-watch something if I need clarification on a topic. And I’ve been extremely appreciative of my professors' willingness to conduct class in a way that allows students to ask questions whenever they need. I’m also a TA for “Engineering in Antiquity,” taught by professor Renato Perucchio (chair of mechanical engineering and director of the Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures program). I attend Zoom class lectures so I know what students have covered, and I’ve expanded my office hours.

"The events of this semester are shocking. My hope is that our expanded availability will help provide some sense of normalcy and support throughout the rest of this semester.” 

Nickerson received the Hajim School Wells Award for excelling in both engineering and the humanities.

computer science and percussion dual major from Livonia, Michigan

Oliver Xu  studying remotely

"Switching to remote learning has been smooth for my computer science classes. My professors are able to deliver lectures over Zoom and we can continue to do our programming assignments.

"Unfortunately, all of my musical performances have been cancelled, and it can be challenging to stay productive during my practice sessions. I'm grateful that I was able to move a marimba from Eastman to my apartment in Rochester, so that I can keep practicing. I probably walk past Eastman once a day, and I’m used to seeing 100 other students on the street. So it’s weird to know that the concert halls and practice rooms are empty. My percussion professor is inviting professional percussionists and composers from all around the world to join us for studio class over Zoom, which is a great learning opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to the day when I can attend a concert and play for people again!”

Xu, a Dual Degree with Eastman student, received the Hajim School Wells Award for excelling in both engineering and the humanities.