While most people have experienced some form of hardship as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine, the changes have also brought unexpected positives such as more time spent with family and developing new hobbies. We asked UM alumni, students and employees to share the good changes they have experienced despite the challenges of the pandemic.
For me, the silver lining of COVID-19 has been that since we are not able to have visitors in our residence hall, it has given my roommate and me the opportunity to become even closer! The pandemic has also allowed me to recognize who and what is truly important in my life.
B.A., mass communication
I have always wanted to start my own business. I was furloughed from April to June. In that time, I was able to review my present situation and had the time to research. I then started the process to founding Fast Forward Up, LLC. I now have my business license and foundation to start my T-shirt business and I’m also consulting college-bound student-athletes. There is always good somewhere in someone and every situation. Look beyond the bad.
Claudia Bonney Amamoo
Major: Political science and foreign languages
The pandemic has given me the opportunity to reset and establish a comprehensive work-life balance. In 2019, I was always on the go, having to go to class and my work-study right after. I also had to allocate 10 hours a week to serving the Shelby County Community through Falcon Scholars. Although I managed my time wisely, I set a limited amount of time for myself. I now have enough time to pursue my hobbies and even to start studying for the LSAT.
The pandemic has also heightened my awareness of the most vital things of life. My family is now my top priority. I consistently call my immediate family and my extended family in Ghana to ensure everyone is doing well. I plan on visiting Ghana once the pandemic is significantly under control. My health is also another top priority of mine. I know to pay attention to my health and check for symptoms regularly.
Alumni director and alumna ’00
B.A., mass communication; MBA ’13
While I tremendously miss in-person alumni events and visiting with our amazing alumni, I have been so touched by how our Montevallo family has come together during these unprecedented times. From the COVID-19 Relief Fund to the Mask-Making Initiative, our alumni have provided vast support for students and the University.
The situation inspired the Alumni Affairs Office and the UMNAA to find creative methods of outreach. Having these virtual events has given us the opportunity to engage alumni who live all across the U.S., not just a specific geographic area. Doing so has encouraged us to continue some of these virtual endeavors in the future and motivates us to look for more innovative ways to connect with alumni near and far! So proud to be a Falcon!
Dr. Mary Beth Armstrong
UM provost and vice president for academic affairs
One silver lining is that our faculty responded to this challenge by engaging in distance education training to ensure we are delivering as high-quality instruction as possible. Our Malone Center, the Distance Education Advisory Committee and faculty colleagues with distance education experience offered tremendous support opportunities for our faculty. Our community rallied in ways that made us all proud. For some time, we have needed to have our general education program online for recruitment and retention, and we have made significant progress on that in this context.
Director of the UM Career Development Center and alumnus ’82
BBA, marketing; M.Ed., counseling ’93
My family and I noticed how delightful the spring season was. We actually got to pay attention to it, notice it, experience it. We also took advantage of the time at home to address many of our deferred home maintenance projects. What a wonderful opportunity it was to tackle those tasks that we had always put off. And, finally, we began really talking and listening to each other.
Director of UM Health Services
My personal silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was the extra time with my family, largely spent enjoying the beautiful spring weather outdoors. Though many activities and events we were anticipating were canceled, we were given that time back to enjoy each other’s company and take a breather from our busy lives. As a medical professional, the silver lining of my work has been the flexibility of offering telehealth appointments. Though it was a very new and different experience at first, it has turned out to be a very comfortable and convenient way for many of my patients to receive health care.
Associate professor of theatre, Faculty Senate president
We’ve been talking in academia for some time about “disruption,” and it is an idea central to drama as well – the inciting action sets off the hero’s journey, wrecking the stasis, demanding resolution. Ultimately, I am thankful for the interruption of momentum (although certainly not the cause for the interruption)!
In entertainment as an industry, and higher ed to an extent, there were a lot of systems that didn’t work for everyone, but for the sake of momentum, they persisted.
Now, we’ve been forced to take a pause, and in that pause good conversations are happening: how do we evolve? Since we have a minute to really look at what we’ve got to work with, how can we make sustainable changes that benefit everyone? I am encouraged by the UM strategic plan in development and the special attention paid to sustainable equality now and moving forward.
Major: Business management, marketing minor
As a college baseball player, I do not get to see my family very much during the school year other than the month we get for winter break. Most students get to go home in May and spend time with their friends and family until August when they have to move back. However, for most baseball players, this is a time for summer ball. So, for the past two years, I have spent about three to four months with my family. During quarantine, I was home from school, both my parents were working from home and my sister was furloughed and spent her time back home. This was the first time my entire family had been able to be together for more than a month at a time since 2012. It might be hard to be grateful in a time like this, but that quarantine time was fun! Just getting the chance to be with my family again was a great feeling, despite the reason for it!
Alumnus ’13 and president-elect of the Jr. Board
B.A., art and communication studies
An unexpected positive that I have experienced is the time to work on creative projects. From video editing to crafting — it’s usually rare that I have the availability for additional artistic expression. It truly does calm the mind. Going forward, I hope to make this a habit as we all continue learning and adjusting.