To commemorate the 52 weeks since the University was evacuated, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to 52 members of the Penn community, who shared how the pandemic has impacted their lives.

Jonah Charlton

One year ago — on March 18, 2020 — Penn’s campus laid completely dormant for the first time in nearly a century. Locust Walk, which just a week before was a bustling campus thoroughfare, was eerily empty. The Quad’s cast-iron gates, typically positioned wide open for thousands of students to pass through every day, were shuttered closed. And in Van Pelt Library, previously packed with students cramming for midterm exams, no one could be found. The University had just made the unprecedented decision to shift classes online and close on-campus housing for the remainder of the semester in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The decision prompted cancellations of cherished Penn traditions such as Hey Day, commencement, and Penn Relays. In the 52 weeks that followed, the 40,000 members of the Penn community and people around the globe that had their worlds turned upside down by a pandemic that has taken nearly 2.7 million lives. After initially planning to reopen campus in the fall, Penn reversed its plan and closed on-campus housing following a nationwide spike in cases just weeks before students were schedule to move in. In the spring, Penn was able to reopen on-campus housing to an overwhelmingly successful degree following a fall semester positivity rate of 1.55%. After a spike in early February to a positivity rate of 4.58% in the undergraduate community, Penn’s COVID-19 positivity rate has decreased for five straight weeks to a semester low of 0.19%. Nearly one year after the campus first closed, Penn announced last week it was planning for a return to in-person, on-campus instruction in fall 2021, giving the Penn community a glimmer of hope that the end of the pandemic may be within sight. To commemorate the 52 weeks since the University was first evacuated, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to 52 members of the Penn community, including students, faculty, staff, and West Philadelphia community members, who shared how the pandemic has impacted their lives. Ranging from University administrators detailing their decision to close campus to personal reflections on loss and grief, read their stories below:

The first momentous pandemic decision I had to make, back in early March 2020 — to evacuate Penn’s campus — was absolutely heart-wrenching, even though it was essential. Each day we didn’t delay saved lives. Yet emotionally, it was the toughest call of my presidency and probably my entire professional life. The response of the Penn community was not only heartening, it was often heroic, banding together with kindness and compassion to see our way through. More recent momentous decisions — to welcome students back to campus in January and most recently to invite our graduating seniors to an on-campus commencement in May — have been among the most uplifting of my professional life, and strikingly for the very same reasons. Having welcomed students back to campus, I see students making conscious choices each day to keep each other and our entire Philadelphia community safe, while simultaneously giving back and supporting one another. This is making an on-campus commencement possible. To me, it’s perfect proof that there’s nothing like the friendship and bonds created here — there’s no place like Penn.

President Amy Gutmann

I won’t soon forget the deep sadness of walking down a quiet Locust Walk with no students. Standing outside of an empty Franklin Field when it should have been the Penn Relays. Offering a prayer into a cell phone camera, instead of in front of robed graduates. Sitting in a quiet office with no work-study students. No food trucks, no tea with colleagues, no bumping into my work family near the LOVE statue while walking to a meeting. All of it very suddenly was gone. I led quiet memorials that were either online or well-spaced for Penn colleagues and alumni whom we lost to COVID-19. Spent time on the phone listening to friends cry while asking for a prayer. Logged into countless meetings with staff and faculty and administrators — all of us doing our best while navigating our own emotions and challenges.

Vice President for Social Equity and Community Chaz Howard

On this journey, through the grief, sadness, and loss, I was forced to have honest conversations with myself about the world I want to create in partnership with my loved ones, friends, colleagues, and students. In this moment, I feel a renewed faith that our relationships with one another and the love that we give to each other are the most important things we can collectively uplift. I am holding onto hope.

Vice Provost for University Life Mamta Motwani Accapadi

Compared to most people, I have been privileged during this pandemic. I can do almost all my work remotely. Nonetheless, this past year has been hard on me. Probably the two biggest issues for me are related to family. I had a grandchild born in July and have not been able to hold her and probably won’t until she is a year old. I have three other grandchildren and have not been able to play with them. FaceTime and Zoom engagements just are no substitute for in-person play. I also have not been able to be with my 87-year-old mother. And then there is the monotony that I find very hard.The same thing, same rooms, same screens over and over, day after day, month after month. I love to travel and learn about new places, and not being able to do that is also very psychologically hard on me. The good thing is that I have been able to launch my new Benjamin Franklin course with great students. It would be better to be all together in a classroom and visit many of the Franklin sites in Philadelphia, like the Library Company and American Philosophical Society, but still it is great to have such engaged, eager students for a new course.

Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel

I did not teach in the fall, so I was going on only the experience of the half-semester of Zoom from last spring. Trying to conduct a whole term of writing workshops through a little rectangle of a cathode-ray-tube-like device (that's an image from my '50s TV childhood, when the screens were all about 7 square inches) seemed almost like a contradiction: How do you get them to be vulnerable with their emotions in such a setting? Well, I can report the following: They have fairly startled me with their earnestness and decency. Is it still hard as a teacher? Incredibly so. I find you can get only half as much done. I have no idea why, although perhaps it's just me. To the extent we are holding it together, the kids get the major credit. Would I ever wish to do this again? I'd almost rather go to hell.

English professor Paul Hendrickson

The COVID-19 paradox continues to reverberate to this day: While we were forced to slow down and, at times, stand still, many have also been forced to absorb more work, spanning more hours, with fewer opportunities to rest. This has been especially true of our campus partners who have been leading the University’s Penn Cares efforts this year. I remain in awe of the steadfast determination my colleagues have shown this year. Similarly, our students have shown tremendous strength and resilience, inspiring all of us with their creativity and grit.

Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé

When I started as a residential advisor in Riepe in fall 2019, I was focused on meeting my residents and building a hall community. This year, COVID-19 has forced me to be more of a disciplinarian, which was always my least favorite part of the job. Riepe particularly is also all about the food events, so we have had to be creative with programming and creating community. Overall, my residents have been really resilient and they continue to inspire me!

RA in Riepe and College senior Zoe Osborne

Professionally, I take much pride in the heroic and incredible Student Health Service team who changed internal operations in such a way that allowed us to provide uninterrupted patient care to our students, while keeping our own staff and our campus safe! Personally, though, it was particularly challenging to focus my energy on our campus while grieving my own COVID-19-related loss of a loved one through the looking glass.

Medical Director for Student Health Service Vanessa Stoloff

COVID-19 has created unprecedented times that have affected us all, and Nursing students are no exception. Granted we did get the vaccine and I’m not complaining about that at all, but COVID-19 and its regulations are unyielding. We still need to get tested twice a week, most simulation labs are online, clinicals for half the semester were online (12 additional hours of being on a computer every week), and if clinical is in person, just imagine having to wear a mask for 12 hours straight. I do feel lucky to have a more 'standard' experience, as we are the ones with the most in-person classes, but like everyone else, I am looking forward to getting back to normal.

Nursing junior Kristian Correa

Having limited time with my loved ones, especially my nieces and nephews, and hearing about the loss of life was hard. It reminded me of the pain of past losses. It still does. Cultivating hope and joy was a struggle at the beginning, but providing therapy, keeping in touch with our amazing CAPS staff, Zooming with loved ones, and meeting with students (like with CAPSAB) were connections that felt healing for me. We were trying to figure out this pandemic together. We still are. There is a shared humanity that continues to move me forward. The hope and joy feel a little more accessible now.

CAPS Director of Outreach and Prevention Services Batsirai Bvunzawabaya

We have taken every precaution in my workplace, but I miss talking with people on the street — interactions are limited. People are still hesitant around one another. I hope this time has helped people to appreciate one another. Some may better appreciate the value of our teachers, our health care workers, all of the essential workers.

Penn Police officer Nickol Taylor

Large, in-person events had always been our way of bringing together our diverse membership and connecting Wharton Women with the greater Philadelphia community. While at times, the pandemic made it challenging to continue fostering relationships among our members, it helped us realize the importance of being a home for new Penn students feeling especially disconnected during the fall semester. In addition, the virtual environment allowed us to expand our philanthropy efforts beyond West Philadelphia and work with national minority-owned businesses that were hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Former Wharton Women President and Wharton senior Rhea Nangia

I am so grateful to our faculty and staff for all their hard work in adjusting to teaching and interacting with our students online; and I am so grateful to our students — and proud of them, too — for working with the College and its faculty and staff as we get through this together. I know we all can’t wait for more normal times; but maybe we have also learned a bit about how adaptable and resilient we all can be, too, when have to. I think we will all look back on this time in a few years with a mix of mild disbelief and considerable pride at how tough and resourceful we were.

College Dean Paul Sniegowski

While I’m an introvert always working on the next big idea, the past year’s losses and racial tensions made me appreciate my connection to others. I’m heartbroken by the memories my children didn’t get to make, the students that I didn’t get to fully connect with, and the families that lost loved ones. I’m hopeful that we can see the gifts in each new day and be better to each other.

Makuu Director Brian Peterson

Stepping into the role of Off The Beat president in the middle of a pandemic has certainly come with its challenges. A cappella is, by nature, a group effort, so not being able to thrive on each other’s energy when navigating virtual rehearsals and attempting to create a close-knit family while miles and miles apart has been disheartening. I only hope we use these collective challenges to grow closer in the aftermath of the pandemic.

President of Off the Beat and College junior Kristen Smith

We ask ourselves what really matters in crises, and the pandemic has given us all a chance to reset. While home in West Virginia during the fall semester, I was blessed to reconnect with family and help build my hometown’s high school football program. This reminded me that love and serving our communities are what matter — the foundations we should turn to. As Interfraternity Council president, I hope to build these ideas of service and pure fraternity within our campus’ Greek community.

Interfraternity Council President and College junior Kaden Stenger

The lockdown has been extremely challenging. We were situated well before the pandemic, so we’ve been able to survive. We can’t wait for normalcy to return, as one of the great pleasures of this business is the relationships we develop with the students.

Smokey Joe's owner Paul Ryan

Being physically absent from campus with a huge time difference does makes it more difficult to stay engaged and active within the community. If I am to be on campus, I would probably be more involved than I am now. However, I am lucky to have met friends who are very accommodating towards my circumstances. They helped me stay engaged in the community and make the most out of this challenging situation.

College first year Jesse Zhang, who is studying from his home in Beijing

There hasn’t been one aspect of our lives that hasn’t been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am inspired and proud of the courage, compassion, and innovation of all health care workers on the front lines — but especially nurses. Whether providing care in intensive care units; helping patients and families transition from life to death, to community testing and vaccination; to providing trusted information to allay fears, nurses have stepped up to combat the pandemic – at a great personal cost. Our Penn School of Nursing undergraduate and graduate students and faculty have been part of these efforts – whether through clinical experiences, volunteer, and/or professional service — and I am so proud and grateful of their efforts.

Nursing School Dean Antonia M. Villarruel

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the many ways that my identity as a mother, scholar, and administrator are bifurcated by the ways I am asked to show-up in spaces. Yet, I am never only one of these things. It's important to me to normalize bringing our full selves into academic spaces, while also recognizing that the pandemic has changed the very nature of how we work, parent, and live. I hope we can carry these lessons forward and model for students what this looks like both at Penn and beyond.

La Casa Latina Director Krista Cortes

Realizing I was leading an organization that seemingly couldn't function in a COVID-19-friendly manner was truly terrifying — our programming had always required close interaction in large groups, and all of a sudden this huge piece of my Penn experience was crumbling before my eyes. However, the pandemic allowed the Kite & Key Society to take our mission beyond the bounds of Philadelphia and expand access to America's first University in unprecedented ways through the creation of three virtual programs and a full website redesign. The past year has taught me that I'm far more resilient than I previously thought and that there is always room for improvement.

Former President of the Kite and Key Society and Engineering senior Sofia Gonzalez

While I'm thankful to continue seeing patients in the midst of a pandemic, I'm also disheartened to see the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans which highlight anti-Asian sentiments that have been here all along.

Penn Dental third year Hyejo Lee

The pandemic has affected me and my family: My wife lost her job and we were laid off without no pay, really just trying to stay afloat during this pandemic. It's been hard times for my family — like many others — but we're still trying to get through. Also the pandemic has affected work at Penn because we're working and we're not getting paid hazard pay or essential worker pay and we're not getting the same support for our family. I really feel that's unfair knowing what's going on around the world.

Grassroots chef Troy Harris

Whenever I am asked why I chose to go into nursing, my response always goes back to my love for human interaction and passion for hands-on learning.  As I sat in my room staring at a computer monitor, alone in my scrubs, it was not difficult to fall into a deep feeling of existentialism. I feel that I lost a bit of myself over the course of the past year, seeing both my social and nursing identity crumble under the stresses of pandemic life. Despite this, I remain optimistic for a bright future and a change to the current narrative.

Nursing sophomore Kaity McGeehan

I had just begun working as the patient care manager for Student Health Service when the pandemic hit. In my role, I am tasked with the responsibility of providing students with support and connecting them to appropriate resources within and outside of the University; the safety, health, and welfare of the students at Penn are a central part of my job. Getting acclimated to this new role in the midst of a pandemic not only helped to redefine the role itself, but also redefined these words: nimble, flexible, advocacy and support — not only for me personally, but in the work that I do with the students as well.

Patient Care Manager for Student Health Service Yuliis Bell

The pandemic made me realize the importance of personal relationships. It allowed me to spend quality time with those important to me and to prioritize what’s important in life: your friends and family. It also taught me how to adapt to difficult situations. The world changed so suddenly and without warning, and I had to lean on those around me to be a good leader, peer and friend. It showed that when everything else is stripped away, all we have is one another

Former President of Penn Dems and College senior Owen Voutsinas-Klose

This has been one helluva tough year for everyone. My family has been one of the fortunate ones, with no relatives or close friends succumbing to the virus. But, we have had many challenges during the past year, made more difficult by the COVID-19-induced isolation. I broke my femur in July. Two weeks ago we had to euthanize our much-loved family dog. My wife, kids, and I have all been working and schooling from home. While we never could have envisioned this arrangement, we have tried to make the best of it by spending quality time together and also encouraging fun activities. Teaching CHEM 101 remotely last fall was a good challenge! We built a strong online chemistry community! I have been grateful to my chemistry research group at Penn for their commitment to engaging safely in laboratory work during this public health crisis. We have continued to meet weekly (on Zoom) during the pandemic, and these interactions remain a big highlight of my week.

Chemistry professor Ivan Dmochowski

The pandemic tested the resolve of our country and the world at large. Despite circumstances nearly unfathomable a year ago, I remain hopeful for our future for one reason alone: the resolve of our community. Faculty pivoted their classes, staff adjusted their engagement models, alumni reached out across the miles. This flexibility was critical to our success, but the resiliency shown by students is what gives me inspiration and hope. This crisis may not yet be over, but the spirit and strength we have shown thus far proves we will emerge from this situation fortified in ways we never could have imagined.

Wharton Dean Erika James

It was definitely a deterrent in getting to know people that I would be spending my university life with, especially in the first semester when everything was remote. All things considered, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to see new and familiar faces on campus this spring.

Engineering and Wharton first year Ethan Shin, who studied from his home in Hong Kong in fall 2020

The Greenfield Intercultural Center truly is a home away from home for so many students. Since we can’t be there in person, we’ve enjoyed hosting programs, support, and community-building online. We were delighted that many alumni joined us on our virtual events and have been sharing insight with students. We can't wait to welcome students back into our space for home-cooked community dinners, BBQs in our Lenape garden, and signature programs like the Intercultural Leadership Retreat, our civil rights history spring break trip, and our annual Powwow.

GIC Director Valerie De Cruz

I think the pandemic has obviously been a very trying time for everyone, and I’ve definitely felt a lot of the isolation and exhaustion that comes with the virtual environment. It’s mind-numbing to sit through hours of Zoom lectures, only to move to hours of virtual club meetings and social events. But I’ve been doing the best I can, as I’m sure everyone has been, to remain an active member of the communities I’m a part of and to keep our groups as strong and engaged as they can be right now. As the president of Panhellenic Council, I’ve been trying to use this time as a chance to realign our vision and to think critically about the prejudices and barriers to entry that Greek life may provide. I think that one good thing (maybe the only good thing, but still) that came out of this pandemic was all the free time it provided for us to stop and critically think about how our organizations operate, and how we want the future to look like. So, I’ve definitely been trying to use this time to voice my concerns and see how much positive change I can be a part of making.

Panhellenic Council President and College and Wharton junior Shriya Beesam

The past year has forced me to reconsider everything I took for granted in the past. From in-person meetings and check-ins to having the ability to directly engage with an audience — it’s definitely been a learning experience. In the meantime, I’m leaning into being grateful for my pod and the opportunity to cook more — but still eagerly waiting for the day when we can sit shoulder to shoulder to watch a show again.

Mask and Wig Chairman and Engineering and College senior Will Deo

Pandemic restrictions have been challenging for all of us. I feel like we’ve been at sea for a year, but thankfully land is in sight. Much as a sailor needs time to readjust from 'sea legs' after returning home from a journey at sea, we will need time to readjust from our pandemic selves as we return to a more normal world. Plenty of patience and kindness will make our readjustment easier!

Roy and Diana Vagelos Professor in Chemistry and Chemical Biology David Christianson

Quick pivot. From three hours on 95, inching through traffic with NPR, to a short sprint to my dining room chair and an intimate relationship with my computer screen. A surprising and successful ability to run a center and deliver services to students in the remote domain. Deeply mourning hugging my family and friends in person and relishing the unexpected joy of virtual gatherings where laughter is shared. Loving the little white dog who follows me everywhere, the plethora of The New York Times recipes now bubbling on the stove, the athletic wear that suffices for work clothes, the opportunity to do a load of laundry in between Zoom meetings, the exercise videos I can follow in my room, the hope of a return to a 'new normal,' now that I am vaccinated and enjoy wearing a mask!

CAPS Senior Clinical Director Michal Saraf

There is hope on the horizon, but I cannot say we are out of the storm. This past year has brought unimaginable pain and suffering. There were missed milestones, instability, distrusts towards leaders, and over half a million lives lost. I worried most about our vulnerable student communities, and I continue to worry today because our community is experiencing an unprecedented amount of hate crimes fueled by rampant and unchecked racism. I would like to experience that “light at the end,” but I know there is a lot of work needed in order to heal.

PAACH Director Peter Van Do

I am very fortunate to say that the pandemic has not affected me or any of my loved ones directly from a health perspective. But it’s been tough to spend so much time at home with my family (my kids’ schools have not reopened yet) and my social life has completely changed — I used to go out and have dinner parties with friends all the time. I haven’t done that in a year, and I feel like I don’t know how to be outgoing and to socialize anymore.

Director of Microeconomic Principles and Economics senior lecturer Anne Duchene

I took a gap year because of the pandemic’s impact on Penn. I am incredibly grateful that no one in my family has been afflicted with COVID-19 or had their job be adversely affected. During my gap year, I explored internships in the nonprofit space, spent more time with family, and and am about to start a six-week backpacking trip. I am thankful to have taken a gap year, and I am hopeful about pandemic recovery and the next three years at Penn!

Rising College sophomore and member of Penn swim and dive Lauren Henderson

The pandemic, and remote teaching, brought me into my students’ homes and brought them into mine. This reminded me that we are not just students and faculty—we are people. We have moms and dads and dogs and wifi problems and so much more. This is a lesson I hope not to forget.

Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor Angela Duckworth

We’re adapting how we teach and learn, and it’s amazing how many people I’ve met and collaborated with because of the pandemic. Using the Collaborative Online International Learning model, our virtual multinational nursing and midwifery exchange course is a pilot project, but we’re hoping to make it sustainable for years to come.

Nursing Ph.D. candidate Nina Juntereal

As the realities of the pandemic became more present in our lives, our emotional well-being became challenged by the lack of opportunities to speak with people who may be experiencing similar hardships. Coming to Penn is some students’ first time exploring their queer identity and meeting others that are going through the same process. Human connections, particularly in a distanced world, were paramount. As a result, Lambda Alliance turned to implementing a buddy program in fall 2020 and coffee chats in spring 2021 to connect students with peers who desired friendship and learning about others’ experiences.

Chair of Lambda Alliance and College junior Blake Rubenstein

The pandemic has added tremendous pressure to the important work that the International Student and Scholar Services has already been doing for the Penn community. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, our office has been managing the unpredictable immigration landscape — the barrage of executive orders, presidential proclamations, and travel restrictions. The pandemic has further exacerbated these tough challenges. I am honored to work with a team who remained dedicated, resilient, and steadfast in their work. Personally, this has inspired me to continue to carry the torch in raising the voices of our international students and scholars.

ISSS Director Rudie Altamirano

I had COVID-19 over a year ago. It’s not “just the flu” even if you personally have a mild case. My long-term symptoms have had more of an impact on my life than the two weeks I actively had COVID-19. Be smart — we owe it to the West Philadelphia community. Get tested frequently. Wear your mask even after you’re vaccinated and even if the people you’re with don’t feel the need to. Speak up if you feel uncomfortable about things your friends are doing. Your actions don’t just affect you — they affect the high-risk people and communities around you.

Engineering sophomore Julia Lottman

The crisis was the biggest experiment that anyone could have conducted. It taught me how resilient we are as a community. The students and faculty came together to find innovative methods to navigate the crisis in ways I simply could not have imagined.

Penn Engineering School Dean Vijay Kumar

Miss students in-person. Hate masks. Have tons of privilege. Love family/inner circle. Need to do more to actively be anti-racist. Miss students in-person. Don’t eat a pint of ice cream nightly. Naps are a blessing. Appreciate my LGBTC teammate Malik and staff oodles. Walking around campus was my exercise. Miss students in-person. Truth is essential and not to be assumed. Be grateful. Care takes many forms. Happiness really is a dog’s kiss. Miss students in-person. Accidental ‘run ins’ are essential. Penn staff rock. Art matters. Love -- in its many forms -- truly is my foundation. Did I mention I miss seeing students in person?

LGBT Center Director Erin Cross

The COVID-19 pandemic in many ways reaffirmed to me what the role of a Penn student is in the West Philadelphia community. Although I was still able to remain an EMT on MERT, the pandemic halted my travels to Guatemala to engage in a anti-violence project. However, this merely opened the door to return to West Philadelphia and volunteer at Sayre, a Federally Qualified Health Center in West Philadelphia, assisting with the mobile care program and COVID-19 testing site. The pandemic encouraged me to turn local and do whatever I could do to aid my fellow neighbors in this trying time.

College senior Heta Patel

During the spring pivot and teetering summer, I recorded hundreds of lecture videos in an effort to reorganize the calculus sequence so that it could be more effective for the fall and future semesters. In the fall, with my kids essentially homeschooling, I took up the responsibilities of a stay-at-home dad, but one that has a full-time job teaching nearly 500 Penn students. Worst of all, I’ve mourned countless deaths of family members, and friends, and students. I’m grateful to still be working and healthy — both physically and mentally.

Associate Director of Undergraduate Mathematics and senior lecturer Nakia Rimmer

For PAGE, like most of the country, the pandemic has put a lot of our work on hold. Specifically, the pandemic has led to a pause in our menstrual distribution pilot program with the Undergraduate Assembly and Period@Penn and a complete restructuring of our pre-orientation pilot program, PennGenEq. While this has been disappointing, PAGE has been taking the time to slow down, re-evaluate our goals, and to work on welcoming more people into our community.

Penn Association for Gender Equity Char and College junior Sam Pancoe

While the pandemic has created an aversion to the phrase 'unprecedented times,' it has also forced many of us to think in unprecedented ways. Balancing the responsibility of my role as the Undergraduate Assembly president and what it means to me with the responsibility of taking care of my body and mind has been one of the most intense internal challenges I have ever faced. Many of us have been pushed to our limits and that has resulted in a shift in the way we interact with and view each other. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to genuinely prioritize empathy and grace both in leading others and in self-reflection.

UA President and College senior Mercedes Owens

This has been a year of profound challenges for me and all of us at the Penn Women’s Center. It’s been so important to prioritize wellness and radical selfcare. As a team, we’ve learned to give each other grace and to meet our students where they are, providing them with what they need at that moment in time.

Penn Women's Center Director Sherisse Laud-Hammond

A lot of the work we're doing and have done over the past year is focusing on short-term challenges and taking advantage of opportunities that have arisen due to the changes Penn has made in response to the pandemic. Furthermore, in conjunction with the work we've done around pass/fail and the efforts of Carson Eckhard, the previous chair external, the role has become even more important as a voice for the Penn student body.

SCUE Chair External and Engineering junior Aidan Young

Leading a club like Bloomers in a pandemic has been a challenge to say the least. Historically, our performances have been sold out, with rowdy crowds and an incredible energy that can’t be described. Virtually, we’ve had to create this magic in a different way in order to ensure the safety of both our members and our audiences. I’ve been really honored to lead such a versatile team that isn’t afraid of challenging the status quo — comedically or otherwise.

Bloomers Comedy Chairwoman and College senior Reagan Bracknell

Having to conduct classes remotely for one year highlighted a very important part of the teaching/learning experience, which could have been underestimated before: the value of interaction and being in each other's immediate presence. As imperfect as we may think the technology is, it has allowed for a great deal of communication and interaction, a fundamental component of my language classes at Penn. I also miss my office, the classroom, and the clear delimitation between home and work, as now there are so many different activities happening in one place.

Senior lecturer and Director of the Portuguese Language Program Mercia Flannery