Campus Life

Reflections on the New Normal

by Henrik Meng, USF News

After an academic year like no other, USF students and professors reflect on life during the shutdown.

How are you staying connected to USF?


Tatjana Bevineau

I have been staying connected to USF by checking in with all of my friends frequently and making sure they are doing OK.

Tatjana Bevineau ’22, biology major and music minor




How are you helping or changing the world?


Gerardo Rubio

My goal in life is to become a doctor. Right now, I'm a pre-med student at USF. I'm volunteering all over the place, shelters, hospitals, giving support to all those families who are having a rough time right now due to corona. I'm talking to them and I'm trying to cheer them up even though I can't physically be there.

—Gerardo Rubio, biology major



How has shelter in place changed your perspective?


Jehieli Luevanos

The lockdown has taught me to never take anything for granted. From going to class or just hanging out in Gleeson Plaza with my friends, it is such a blessing. Since lockdown, every walk is a little sweeter and every human interaction seems more precious.

—Jehieli Luevanos ’22, environmental studies and politics major




Ali Pyle

Being sheltered in place has taught me how to relinquish control. Through this experience, I have really had to take a step back and reframe my mindset to be more "go with the flow." For example, I am a planner person, meaning I have to write down exact dates/times/activities that will take up my daily routine and I always write it out in pen. Once shelter in place began, I started writing in my planner in pencil, with the understanding that things might have erased, moved, or modified!

—Ali Pyle ’21, communication studies major and child and youth studies minor

If there’s a silver lining to this situation, what is yours?


Emma Fuentes and her daughter

Overall this is an unbelievable moment, happening to all of us human beings, all over the world. It is incredible to think of the ways that this moment shows how interlinked we all are, yet impacted in very different ways. It is a moment to imagine new ways of being, organizing, and fighting for justice in a world that is so clearly unjust. Being able to think about this, to talk this through and hold my kids close during this time is such a gift. We are able to talk about how very important it is to work together as a family and as a society, also how to care for one another in our own community and across borders in ways that work towards a more just world. I feel grateful to have this time with them, to learn with and from them, and to find new ways of being with them.

—Emma Fuentes, associate professor, School of Education


Kimberly Ding

My husband, who is a physician, and I made the difficult decision at the beginning of the pandemic for him to self-isolate at a separate area of the home while he cared for patients. This meant that I had to solo parent my two kids ages 3 and 5 while also teaching clinicals online. This taught me that my family and I can get through anything. It showed me that children are resilient. I established a good routine with them from the beginning of COVID, a routine that was also flexible and adaptable to change. And my husband and I, despite the fact that he was self-distancing, showered them with love and made them feel safe and secure.

I made sure to sing to my children every day, dance with them, laugh with them, bake with them, read with them, create with them, and I also cried with them because we are human. It is important to feel all your feels but to never be consumed by them. We can't control what's happening in the world, but we can control our reactions. My husband and I made sure our children felt loved every day.

Yes, my family is strong, my family is brave, my family got through this semester with grace.

—Kimberley Ding, assistant professor, School of Nursing and Health Professions


Frank Nunez

For once in mine and my mother's life, we've been financially stable. I have always found myself struggling, working three jobs, juggling school, and compromising with my work just to make it by for food and rent.

My work has been very kind with compensating its workers the normal hours. With that time, I've been able to work on personal healing, my artwork, and catching up with my family and friends without having the overwhelming questions I had about my living situation or quitting on my dreams. After I was furloughed from my job, I was able to qualify for unemployment benefits and artist outreach programs. This has provided a safety net that was very, very thin before all this. I wish everyone who is affected by this well, including my own family and friends who are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are essential workers.

—Frank Nunez, advertising/photography major

What's your message to the USF community?


Tara Minaee

I hope everyone is staying safe and following social distancing guidelines. We as a community need to work together to support our essential workers, health care workers, and our at-risk populations by staying inside. Even though the weather is getting warmer and spring semester has finished, the fight isn't over. I can't wait to be with my USF community soon enough to finally walk across the stage, but until then I hope everyone stays healthy, connected, and inside.

—Tara Minaee ’20, nursing major