As the country continues to combat the spread of coronavirus, college students across America have found their fall semesters uprooted entirely. The situation is even worse for seniors, who attempted to complete their collegiate studies while struggling with shifting schedules and the usual cultural unrest.
Though UNO senior Jeniveve Mulherin, an elementary education major with a concentration in inclusive practices, fully concedes that wrestling with “senioritis” during the pandemic hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park, she nonetheless remains appreciative of UNO’s efforts to protect the college’s community.
“This isn’t how I imagined my final semester would play out, but I’m grateful that UNO made proactive decisions to keep me, my family, and my fellow students safe,” Mulherin said. “I was [relieved] that UNO’s administration was taking the pandemic seriously and listening to the brilliant scientists spearheading the effort to contain the virus.”
At the beginning of the semester, all of Mulherin’s classes were virtual except for one, as this course’s professor gave students the option of attending in person (while socially distanced) or attending online. Mulherin initially attended in person – for the sake of preserving some normalcy – but near the middle of the semester, that class also became fully remote, after the cases of COVID-19 began to rise in Omaha.
Mulherin’s biggest worry was that she or her family would become sick during the semester, and she had to face that fear head-on after her entire family contracted the virus this fall. Though Mulherin had been exposed to the virus as well, she thankfully tested negative two times. Nevertheless, she still had to enter quarantine and take on the role of “caretaker” for her family, putting her studies on hold for a brief time. Thankfully, all of her professors were incredibly understanding.
“[My professors] were willing to work with me and be flexible on deadlines while I helped make sure that my family was able to recover,” Mulherin said. “They all checked in on me at least once to make sure that I was doing okay, and one even made a house call to where I was quarantining to drop off my MavCARD that I lost before I went into quarantine.”
Specifically, Mulherin commends the compassion of UNO professors Amanda Murtaugh, Amber Rogers and Luke Severson.
“They really rallied around me and helped me make it through one of the hardest times in my life,” Mulherin said. “They were all very flexible and explained to me what was going to happen and what I needed to do in a way that didn’t incite panic. They were phenomenal support, and I will forever be thankful for their kindness.”
Graduating from college is no small feat, and aside from her professors, Mulherin was effusive in her gratitude for a number of other individuals who have assisted her throughout this time in her life and especially during this stormy final semester.
“I would like to thank my parents, grandparents, and siblings for supporting me not only through college but also through my disability diagnosis 4 years ago. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Mulherin said. “I’d also like to thank my therapist Beth, who’s an absolute rock star; my advisor Katie Larson; my boyfriend, Jesse; my best friend, Alexandra; all of the baristas at Blue Line in Dundee and Starbucks; and my dogs, Bizzy, Jett, and Cora.”
When asked what she will take from her time at UNO after managing schooling in the midst of such societal turmoil, Mulherin had two answers.
“A degree – finally – and the knowledge that I can survive anything,” Mulherin said. “Bring it on, 2021.”