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Senior Spotlights Stories

Finishing Strong: Graduating Amidst a Pandemic

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. 

Today’s story features soon-to-be graduate Thomas Gatt, a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major in the house of Reagan. Before King’s went online, Thomas lived off-campus with some friends from King’s, and came home to stay during spring break. He is finishing his semester in Arlington, Texas, with three other siblings at home. Since his best fountain pens were at home, Thomas has started writing letters again and experimenting with different handwriting styles. 

Thomas has been writing a letter to his fellow seniors (keep an eye out for it soon!). He hopes to thank his classmates for all of the memories they helped create, regardless of how bumpy the road has been. He is thankful that his friends have stayed closed and banded together through the past few years. Even though classes have ended differently, and Interregnum took place differently, Thomas says he was astounded by the involvement of the senior class. He believes this resilience will prepare them for success wherever they go next, and he is proud to be graduating with a group of such strong character.

To the other students, Thomas hopes to encourage them to persevere– not just through the trial of social isolation, but through whatever other paths for character development they encounter. He says that, in the journey to become what God has destined for us to become, it is important to focus on our growth as people, especially in an ever-changing world. 

I asked Thomas where he would go if Texas opened back up for a day, and he said he would go see a baseball game with his family because they live very close to the stadium. If New York opened up for just a day, Thomas said he would go to Washington Square park to see his close community at the NYU Catholic Center. But first, he would go back to King’s! He says he would want to thank the people who have influenced his years there and to finalize his sending off from college. 

Which professors, faculty, or staff have influenced your stay at King’s? Leave a comment below!

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Senior Spotlights Stories

Ch. 15: A Family Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. 

Today’s feature is soon-to-be graduate Rebekah Lambdin, a Humanities major in the house of Sojourner Truth. Rebekah spent spring break at a beach house with her family in California, and stayed with them to finish her semester when King’s went online. After graduation, Rebekah plans to stick around and work some organizational jobs over the summer before moving to LA in the fall. She has been a key part of events planning at King’s, so she is equipped for a successful career in Events sometime in the future. 

Rebekah was homeschooled before college, so going back to doing homework with her younger siblings has been a sweet experience, even when their casual playing around sounds like a raging battlefield. Rebekah has been spending her extra time helping out with her big family (she has two sisters in college and three foster siblings in school, and they’re all at home with her!). She gets to see her boyfriend more often too– check out the puppy Rebekah got him this week!

If Rebekah could say anything to her fellow seniors, she would tell them to recognize the bond that they have. Sharing a loss of such magnitude is unique. “We’ll be the class of 2020,” she says, “and people will know what that means.” She encourages everyone, grad and non-grad, to make the most of the moments they have going forward. When places open back up, and there is somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, DO IT! 

When I asked Rebekah where she would go when New York City opens back up, she said she would go to Times Square. She says that this great example of the city’s diverse melting pot of cultures really encompasses all of the reasons she loves NYC. I asked Rebekah where she would go if California opened back up too. Can you guess how she responded? Leave a comment below! 

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Senior Spotlights

Message from a Senior Graduating Amidst COVID-19

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. 

Today’s post features Senior Sydney Watson, a soon-to-be graduate of King’s. Sydney is a Media, Culture, and the Arts major in the house of Clara Barton. She had planned to visit a cousin in Southern California over Easter, and ended up coming over Spring Break instead. Because the shelter-in-place order started a few days later, Sydney stayed with her cousin to finish the semester. She is currently in the LA area, so she is considering setting up shop in LA after quarantine to work. 

Routine to Mindset

Sydney shares that she associates mindset with place very strongly, so she needed a strong routine to get her mind into school mode. She begins her day by making the bed, opening the drapes, and looking at the beautiful scenic mountains outside her window. Sydney’s extended family has four dogs (Samson, Delilah, Salt, and Pepper!), so she lets them out in the mornings as well. Other parts of her routine include watering the garden, going on hikes, doing some watercoloring, and exploring other creative outlets she did not have a chance to before. 

Staying in Touch

Another hobby Sydney has taken up is writing snail-mail letters to her friends. She is using quality cardstock and burning the edges to give it a rustic look! Though she misses her guitar in Brooklyn (and her guitars, ukulele, and keyboard back home in Michigan!) Sydney has been writing some poetry while she can’t make music. She keeps in touch with family in Michigan by facetiming her parents every day, and sending her brother the daily meme or song lyric. 

Wisdom from Grace

Sydney wishes she could tell her fellow seniors to take a deep breath! She shares that she is an intense planner, so she had to intentionally make herself inhale, exhale, and accept what she cannot control. Sydney also wished to tell other students that it’s okay to be upset, even if you haven’t been robbed of a graduation by the pandemic. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all around are losing things as well, and it is okay to mourn those losses! The seniors don’t have it worse, she says. They just have it different. I could hear a wind chime sounding outside while Sydney shared this wisdom, which illustrated to me how Sydney finds peaceful moments amidst widespread uncertainty. 

I asked Sydney where she would go in the City when things settle down, and she said she would go to her favorite cafe on the Lower East Side, Granddaddy. The atmosphere is casual and cute, the drinks are great, the bagels are delicious, and they play full-length albums! Where would you go if New York City opened up tomorrow? Leave a comment below!

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Ch. 13: Leadership in Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles.  

Miles Sinagra, a sophomore PPE major, is finishing his classes at home in Louisiana. Before coming home, he lived in campus housing in Brooklyn, but he is currently staying with his parents and younger sister. They live on a dairy farm and have been working together to repaint their barn, which has turned into a fun family project! When Miles went home for spring break, he took his textbooks and two full suitcases with him — he had a feeling things in the city would get more serious. 

Miles shares that transitioning to online classes feels like taking a trip to the past because he was homeschooled through high school. While he remembers how to do school from home, he’s found it hard to be motivated without his friends around to bounce ideas off of. Pursuing excellence, he says, is harder when you have to do it alone. That’s one valuable aspect of King’s community that Miles does not take for granted. 

Succession in leadership is another part of King’s community that looks different because of campus closure. This year, Miles served as Helmsman for the house of Winston Churchill, and he was elected as President for next year. Like many other houses, Churchill held their elections on Zoom. Thankfully, voter turnout did not drop and Churchills all across the country tuned in to participate. Miles regrets that they were not able to have their traditional inauguration, which includes inviting alum and renting a church uptown. Likewise, taking part in the Council’s traditional “Coup” over Zoom, where next year’s council members were sworn in, had an air of bittersweet to it because they could not be together in person. 

While transitioning in leadership roles has been unusual for Miles, he is excited about the future. The King’s community is resilient and continues to build each other up as best they can. Students may not be able to support each other in person, but that only means they’ll celebrate a little louder when they are united again. 

What part of King’s community are you looking forward to seeing again? Leave a comment below!

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Ch. 12: Coupled in Quarantine

Four hours behind NYC time, in Juneau, Alaska, Shannon Mason and her boyfriend Daniel Phelps are finishing the semester with Shannon’s family. They have been doing classes online, often battling spotty wifi when their classes meet at the same time. Shannon, a JCS major in the house of Susan B. Anthony, came home from her apartment when King’s switched to online classes. Daniel, a PPE major in the house of Reagan, came to Juneau two weeks later, leaving his apartment in Brooklyn as well.

Shannon shares that the nice thing about being in Juneau is having her siblings and their families nearby. In order to stick to a New York schedule for work, her day begins at 5am and her routine is similar to what it was in the city. Shannon has continued her internship with Rolling Stone remotely, but a future internship opportunity with NBC was cancelled because of the quarantine closure. 

Daniel is currently working construction with Shannon’s family while he is on furlough at J. Crew in NYC. His internship at O’Douds Apothecary in Brooklyn is also on hold while the city stays closed. He stays busy on the construction site, keeping up with family over facetime, and doing homework for classes. Daniel shares that he is grateful for the opportunity to be thoughtful and intentional about his routines.

While the NYC hustle used to keep them from seeing each other often, Shannon and Daniel are grateful that they can now see each other every day! In their spare time, the pair have been working together on photography projects (check out some of their cool shots on Instagram!). They’ve also been catching up on TV shows like Community and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and have watched all 3 Back to the Future films.

Both are passionate about supporting small business during this time of economic tension. For Daniel, this looks like stocking up on quality hair/skincare products from O’Douds Apothecary. Shannon is intentional about getting her coffee from Kos Kaffe in Brooklyn. Check out their products in the picture above!

Which small businesses are you passionate about? Leave a comment below! 

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Ch. 11: Birthday in Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles.  

Today’s story follows freshman Brianna Jacobs, a Journalism, Culture, and Society major in the house of Margaret Thatcher. Before King’s went online, Brianna lived in campus housing in Brooklyn. Like many of her peers, she went home for Spring Break and ended up staying with her family for the rest of the semester. She is currently with her parents and younger sister in Orlando, Florida. 

Brianna is thankful that she got to spend Easter with her family this year! She shared that her family has a tradition of watching the Ten Commandments movie every Easter. She was going to miss it because of staying on campus, but going home gave her the opportunity to continue the tradition. 

In her spare time, Brianna has been watching shows like Gossip Girl and The Good Place, doing a bit of painting, and gaining a steady Tiktok following (what started out as a joke for fun has turned into a hobby with a 5k following!). 

One thing Brianna misses after the campus closure is her work on the events committee this year. They had put in a lot of planning for spring formal and will not get to see the magical evening everyone anticipated! It was also very different to celebrate her birthday without her friends. Brianna shares that it’s important to grieve the things that were lost, but not to dwell on them. Rather, her positive attitude shined through her words, even when she remembered her losses! She is hoping to publish a piece about her other friends who celebrated birthdays in quarantine as well. 

Know someone whose birthday has recently passed? Share this post with them for some quarantine birthday support!

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Ch. 10: How To Make the Most of College in Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles.

Today’s story features Deborah Gonçalves, a Junior majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Deborah serves as Scholar for the House of Susan B. Anthony and representative for Student Services. Before King’s transitioned to online classes, Deborah lived in on-campus housing in the Fidi. Currently, she is at home in Tampa, Florida with her parents and three chickens! Her mom has “attended” a few lectures with Deborah, but the chickens have not shown much enthusiasm. 

Here is how Deborah is making the most of college in quarantine:

  1. Count Your Blessings – When asked about doing school online, Deborah said “I cannot emphasize this enough. We have the best professors.” Her professors expressed a desire to accommodate students and help with the transition. For instance, Dr. Brand was lenient about paper source requirements from the NYPL, and Dr. Johnson took extra time to scan some readings into Schoology for his classes. Another blessing Deborah mentioned is the abundant Florida sunshine that has been improving her mood!
  1. Lean Into the Systems That Are Still in Place – Deborah has been translating her usual on-campus activities to her new work space: a desk in the middle of her living room. Being at a desk helps her get into the routine of being in school. She also makes sure to take notes in class, even on a Zoom call. This helps her stay focused and not “zoom” out. At the time of the interview, she was still working diligently with her House Interregnum team, only from a hammock instead of a classroom. 
  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Adjustments – Deborah mentioned that getting back into a working mindset was difficult because she was in the same place where she relaxed over Spring Break. One way she combats that is to do homework over Facetime with a friend. Each has their own music playing, but seeing each other work motivates both to concentrate. Another change is that, while she used to work her campus job after classes, she now does her work before class. She still spends a typical day at her desk taking care of school and work, just in a different order. 

Deborah has been intentional about channeling her “Florida Deb” side and her “New York Deb” side to work together. This balance has helped her count her blessings, lean into the systems she still has, and make some adjustments! What adjustments have you made with your #collegeinquarantine? 

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10 Ways Life Has Changed For An NYC Student During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. Today’s story features David Hancock, a Junior at King’s studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Here are ten ways his life has changed as a college student living in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic. 

  1. My roommates are gone… – After King’s classes moved online, all of David’s roommates went back home for the rest of the semester. David stayed in their Brooklyn apartment because he did not want to risk endangering his grandparents or other family back home. 
  2. … but I have a new roommate!– With the others gone, David’s friend from the House of C.S.Lewis has moved in for the rest of the semester. The two pals are helping each other keep quarantine boredom away. 
  3. My legs feel like jelly – It has been hard to go from walking two miles a day during the commute to walking only around the apartment between rooms. 
  4. I have a new exercise routine – Because going outside in New York City is currently not recommended (and because of point #3), David has started an exercise routine indoors. 
  5. I learned that my couch is uncomfortable– After sitting on his couch upwards of 12 hours a day to do school, David has discovered that he is no longer a fan. He is half-considering commandeering his roommate’s desk for a few days.
  6. I’m becoming the quiet kid in class – Transitioning to Zoom has made the class environment different. David says that, in an online class, unmuting yourself on a call with twenty others seems like a big deal, especially if your comment is brief. 
  7. Videocalling professors makes me kind of self conscious – For David, seeing yourself in the call makes it feel like you are presenting yourself to professors in a more obvious way. While this has made some students more comfortable, it has been odd for others. 
  8. I have a new love for Facetime – Though he did not use Facetime much beforehand, David has grown to appreciate it as the only way to see his friends and family. The Discord app gets an honorable mention here as well! 
  9. I’m fighting a lack of motivation – The new learning environment has made it a struggle to get schoolwork done at home, or even to focus on personal hobbies like reading books. 
  10. I can’t wait to be in the same room as people – Social isolation is proving that distance really does make the heart grow fonder. But distance is not forever, and we will see our friends in person sooner than we think. 

Do any of these apply to you too? How are you adjusting to new roommates or routines? Leave a comment below!

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Ch. 7: Spring Break Visit Turned Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. 

Today’s story features Dominique, a sophomore at King’s. RTS major Dominique LaCroix is Spiritual Life Associate for the House of Clara Barton. Before the semester went online, she lived in on-campus housing in the FiDi. Dominique planned to spend Spring Break with her roommate Lydia’s family in New Jersey. However, once King’s went online she ended up staying there rather than coming back to the City. Dominique is planning to stay with Lydia’s family for the rest of the semester, which she says is “kind of like being at my house.” Because she has visited for Thanksgiving and formed friendships with Lydia’s family members, she feels at home there. During the interview, Lydia’s mom had just made fresh chocolate chip cookies for everyone at home.

Dominique is getting accustomed to doing school in her temporary home at Lydia’s. Often they will do school together because they share a lot of classes. To stay in routine, Dominique still tries to get up early every day. Her key to staying disciplined is to have something to look forward to in the morning: she and Lydia usually do devotions together over coffee. In their spare time, they go on walks outside and bake recipes that they discover on Pinterest.

Being out of the city has forced Dominique to slow down, which has been really helpful for her spiritual routines because it has given her more time to read the Bible and pray. She stays in touch with her family over Facetime and connects with her friends with handwritten letters. She expressed gratitude for having received so many letters from people. She thinks that “snail mail” letters are a key part of finding balance in a world that has now begun to stare at screens all day. Staying in touch with her community has been a blessing during this time.

Where did you send your last “snail mail” letter? Are you writing letters more often while you stay at home?

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Ch. 6: Creative in Quarantine

Keeping Up with King’s follows the lives of King’s students as they transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. Many have moved back home with family until the summer, some have stayed in the city, others are staying with friends, but all are adjusting to new lifestyles. 

Today’s post features Paris Welker-Widell, a Senior in the House of Susan B. Anthony. Paris is completing her Business major with an Economics minor. Before coming to New York City for King’s, she lived in Vero Beach, Florida. Instead of going home when the semester moved online, she decided to stay in Brooklyn with her roommate. It would have been difficult to self-quarantine in a small house because she has some older family members back home. She also plans to move apartments later in April, so it made sense to stay in the City. 

Paris says her living situation has been relatively normal, but with more groceries. Outside of her apartment, the city feels a bit eerie: her local bodega is closed, Fulton Street is empty, and Target is filled with people in masks. For Paris, the situation is a good, humbling reminder that we are not in control and that the glorified NYC “hustle” is not what is most important. As she prays for good things to come of the hardships, Paris sees how the church is becoming more unified. Because her faith in God’s sovereign plan is being tested, it is becoming stronger and more resolute. 

Since her internship at Avail ended with stay at home orders, she has had a lot more free time. Paris has put that time to use reading books (she is currently reading Where The Crawdads Sing, and so far she loves it!), watching movies, and painting magnets.

Although Paris shares concern about the immunocompromised and elderly in her city, she holds to Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” In the meantime, she is getting creative in quarantine. Check out some of her artistic designs below!