University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition

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Actuarial science student Alejandra Galo was unable to return to Honduras when it closed its borders. Graduate student Saúl Roman remains on campus as the Morrison Hall Director. Nicolas Lovichi is a Fulbright Scholar and teaching assistant from France living in Morrison Hall Residence Life employee Maria Helena Buitrago Cohoon. Biology student Juan Rodriguez, a first-generation college student, is thankful to be able to stay on campus where he can focus on his studies.

Photo by Greg Guswiler

Sophomore Olivia Tjokrosetio is a psychology and family studies major from Indonesia who is living in Morrison Hall. Like many of her peers, she misses the normalcy of campus life pre-COVID-19. “I thought I was an introvert, but I guess I’m not,” Tjokrosetio said. “I was loving the first few days of isolation and then after that, I needed people to talk to. Thankfully, most of my friends are like that too, so we’ve been Zooming and FaceTiming. That’s been fun.” Sierra Pancoast, mid-campus west block director and graduate student in leadership and student affairs, said her duties have remained the same except meetings, which are now online. It’s important to remain connected to the students still on campus, she said. “We’ve divided up the remaining students among the apartment coordinators to contact students individually,” Pancoast said. “They’re doing a one-on-one conversation with them over Zoom, and if the student wants to talk about things over email, that’s fine too. Just a general, ‘Hey, how are you hanging in there?’ If there are any

“At first you have really discouraging moments where you don’t realize what’s happening,” Lovichi said. “The first weeks were hard. Going back to work on Zoom and everything is helping me get through. I’m getting better. “Given the situation in [France], I’m happy to stay here, because in France you can’t go out at all – it’s a complete lockdown,” he continued. “Here I feel a bit freer. I can walk on campus and get outside. I’m relieved about that.” Lovichi is adjusting to teaching through Zoom, which he also uses to keep in touch with family and friends. And he continues to produce a podcast about cultural differences. “We live in a world where we aren’t used to facing challenges like this ... living through dark times like these that push you to do your best in some ways,” he said. “It makes you stronger. Personally, this experience taught me a lot about how to live out of your home country for such a long time in circumstances you didn’t plan. It teaches you how to find a Plan B, Plan C – how to find solutions.”

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