By Telena M. Turner

A few weeks ago, before the stay-at-home advisory (and later, the order) were put into place in Virginia, I traveled back to campus to pick up my textbooks and a few other items before classes resumed from extended spring break.

The day was sunny and slightly cold, but our campus had the same bright and beautiful appearance that I have come to love during my four years as a residential student at Wise. Though it was a wonderful feeling to be back for a short time and to see some familiar faces from the Division of Student Affairs and Office of Housing and Residence Life, it was also sobering to know that the next time I would be on campus would likely be to move out of my dorm room for the last time. I am grateful for the many warm memories I have from UVA Wise; and while I miss being away from campus, I have found that completing classes online has given me many opportunities to reflect on what I love (and miss) most about being a student at Wise.

• I miss hearing the birds outside my window in the mornings at Culbertson Hall.
• I miss the way the lights reflect in streaks across the pond in the evenings.
• I miss Zehmer 137 and all of the discussions we would have in class, whether we were talking about media theories, seminar projects, or Renaissance artists.
• I miss greeting friends and professors in the hallways or at Books and Brew (and getting coffee!)
• I miss impromptu office visits with professors and personnel on campus, and I miss having weekly conversations with our admissions counselors during my office hour as a student ambassador.
• I miss attending club meetings, art shows, performances, student programs, and so much more.

While these statements may seem sentimental (and, in a way, I guess they are) these small moments often defined my days on campus, and it is these interactions that I miss most.
However, while COVID-19 has dramatically changed what our daily lives look like, distance learning has provided me new opportunities to connect with people.

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry holds Zoom Bible studies and maintains a Snapchat account for members to connect. Recently, I have especially enjoyed attending a women’s bible study for college seniors with a small group of ladies from the BCM. Sigma Alpha Omega has continued to meet through Zoom, and we are all able to reach out through Snapchat and GroupMe. In addition, the executive team for the National Society of Leadership and Success has met through Zoom, and we have all worked together to apply for some scholarships through our National Office for the upcoming academic year. I have also been able to continue having discussions with mentors and professors through Facetime, Skype, text, and email.

The outreach from the Wise community has been phenomenal during this time, and staying at home has made me more appreciative of the many relationships in my life.

Although I would not have imagined this is how the final semester of my senior year would look, I am immensely grateful for these quarantine memories, and I look forward to the day when we can all come together again to celebrate our Wise community