AHS Alumni Talk College and COVID19

Emersonn Palencia, Reporter

Since quarantine was declared, AHS students have been facing hard times. This holds true for those students who successfully graduated from AHS and have continued on their path to success. Anaheim High School alumni spoke with AE News regarding attending college during our new “normality.” 

We are all aware of how exciting going to college/university is and how frustrating it could be. Now, imagine all that during a pandemic!  Before talking about college or the university, let’s go back a few steps. As high school students, we struggle to do our work, keep up our grades, and attend virtual classes. Let’s take this opportunity to hear three different stories from a college student’s perspective during this pandemic. 

The first student I interviewed was Alexandra Renata (Class of 2018). Alexandra was accepted to George Washington University. She thought everyone would have a long spring break and be back after two weeks, but it didn’t happen. She had an internship in the field, but unfortunately, it was canceled, which made her come back to California and find a job. Alexandra’s classes are online. “But because I’m a college student, many people are very apprehensive about hiring me because they don’t know when I go back to school or when I don’t go back to school. It is hard to find a job,” said Alexandra. Having to leave loved ones is one of the hardest things for a student, also keeping their physical and mental health is fundamental to getting good grades and give better performance. “It’s been hard, and I know many people who have been struggling with this as well because it was a big switch from months to go to college and back to our homes. Many people that could afford it, especially at my school, rented apartments, but just because I couldn’t afford that, I had to come back home,” explains Alexandra. Thanks to the precautions she takes, she’s keeping herself secure from being exposed to COVID-19.   She shared what she does to keep positive, “I think it’s just positive reinforcement for myself telling me like ‘I can do this, you’re good’ and having things scheduled like when I have school or work.” Also, she recommends having something to hold on to, so it’s easier not to give up during this time. She is also thankful for all the teachers who are working hard to be there, not only as teachers but also as friends. 

Alexandra Renata - George Washington University
Alexandra Renata – George Washington University

Natalie is enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from AHS last year (Class of 2019). She is enrolled in online classes at the university. This pandemic is making her education harder because her major is theater, emphasizing technical theater. “It’s something I don’t get to do, so right now, my new learning will be through power points and vocabulary work,” Natalie said, explaining how her education has been affected. And every student has a story or personal experience. Natalie shared her experience for us, “When you go to college, you have a lot more independence as a person. You learn how to take care of yourself, and in my case, I came home. You almost revert to like when you were in high school and lived the way you lived; you know your mom still has to tell you what to do now.” This leads to changing the lifestyle she had, “It’s a lot harder because when I was at school it was easier to disconnect from everything, so when I get stressed something I like to do is go on our bell tour, and I would just sit there. But here you can’t go anywhere because you’re risking it by going outside, and you’re more stationary.” Those were some challenges she had to overcome. According to Natalie’s involvement with her classes, it’s much harder than the in-person ones to she says, “In terms of how it is to learn, I think it’s a lot harder to interact with people on Zoom because when you’re in your college courses, we have ‘Discussion Course,’ but you don’t really get it over Zoom, you still have the designated course time, but the teacher talks more instead of interacting with each other. It’s a sad position to be in because you don’t get to know or interact with your classmates as you could do if you were at school 15 minutes before class starts, the 5 minutes between classes or lunch.” Luckily, neither Natalie, her family members nor friends have been exposed to the virus. It’s important to always try to keep positive and don’t give up on things right away. “If I feel like I’m getting stressed, I close my computer, and I walk away for a bit. I remind myself this isn’t forever. Hopefully, by next year we’ll have new policies or something that will help us get through it and keep me going. I remember that I’m only 19, and even if it takes two years of my life, it will not take my entire youth, so I still have time,” said Miss  Olivares, and she completed the interview giving us recommendations and a shout out, “Remember that things are going to go back to normal eventually as long as we keep staying careful and we stay inside. Try to disconnect from the computer once a while; make sure you eat something. I know sometimes we are stuck on the computer for like six hours and forget to eat. Tell Mrs. Garret that I miss her.”

Natalie Olivares

Natalie Olivares – University of California, Berkeley.

Last but not least, Maegan Davis graduated from AHS Class of 2020. She’s attending Brigham Young University, Idaho, in a hybrid education. As previously mentioned, students are doing their best during this hard time. “So, my classes are except for a lot of them in person and on Zoom. It’s kind of confusing because for one of my classes, I just come every Monday, for another one of my classes whenever the teacher says, and for other classes, I come on specific days. The left days we just do Zoom, so I’m just here in my apartment,” related Maegan about how her education was affected this semester. Although she has to stay in her apartment, she thinks college is fun, and she loves it, “It’s a big step up from high school, and there is a lot more of individuality. Idaho is a small town, so I walk everywhere, grocery shopping by myself, and I get to live by myself. It’s very difficult being a college student and being part of that environment because I am trying to keep myself and roommates safe. It’s hard to get out there and to be social when there’s a pandemic.” Sadly, Maegan and her roommates contracted COVID-19.  They are doing better now. However, she has had difficulties spending most of ther time inside her apartment, “Mentally it’s been challenging to adjusting to the new rules, for example, I’m not allowed to visit my friends, I can’t go to any campus activities, and it’s challenging because I want to be social and have that good college experience, but it’s just hard when there’s a pandemic. What could help us as students, no matter if we’re in high school or college have a better experience if you have good roommates like I do. You can always have fun wherever you are,” she said. In conclusion, she wanted to share some recommendations so that other students can take them as advice. “Be safe, be smart, don’t give up your dreams. Things look bad, but they’ll get better and it’s up to you if you make them better,” said Maegan.

In summary, its up to us to stay strong, stay positive, and be patient. Things will get better soon.

Maegan Davis – Brigham Young University, Idaho.