2020 graduates share thoughts on time at Trinity, COVID-19
In April, The Trinity Reporter asked the college’s 2020 graduates for their submissions—the written word in any form, photographs, and any other creative medium—that express their thoughts and feelings about their time at Trinity and the way the COVID-19 pandemic forced that time to come to an abrupt end. The following submissions, perhaps somber at times but hopeful, too, help mark the graduates’ place in the nearly 200-year history of the college.
I decided to call it [a series of black-and-white photos, including the one at left] Coronation as a sarcastic play on words with graduation and coronavirus, obviously, satirizing the idea that the Class of 2020 didn’t graduate; we were ‘coronated,’ crowned as the Class of COVID-19. I chose to have the collection in black and white to emphasize the hollowness of the campus, playing with the light and shadows, as well as a reflection of the historically dark times the Class of 2020 is graduating in. I felt like I was living in a history textbook, living on an empty campus that usually at this time would be full of life. Thus, I chose black and white to emphasize the emptiness of the campus as well as the emptiness I felt inside. The black and white also gave the collection a hallowed, chronicled feel.
I took this photo from my sophomore-year dorm in Cook during one of the first snowfalls that winter. My three roommates and I lived in a cozy two-room double just above the arch. Living on the Long Walk was a very special experience. My roommates and I lived in the heart of campus and relished what I believe to be the best spot for people watching. As I reflect on my time at Trinity, I think about the views we had from our room: parents and students lugging bags into dorm rooms on move-in day, the bustle of students and faculty down the Long Walk in between classes, the crowded quad on a sunny day. Although the views from our window differed, one thing that stayed constant was the spirit of Trinity. It is this spirit that has lived on for nearly 200 years, and I hope it will stay with the Class of 2020 as we think back to the time we all spent here.
I could never imagine leaving Trinity, my home of four years, with such uncertainty and abruptness. I remember my last few days at Trinity were spent running around campus, seeking friends, professors, and staff, to hurriedly bid farewell before I headed home to Pakistan. I remember running around Crescent Street, trying to take a few quick pictures with friends whom I might not see for a long time. Bittersweet does not and cannot encapsulate the scattered emotions of the Class of 2020. Nevertheless, I am grateful to have grown and thrived in the intellectually challenging and socially supportive environment at Trinity. I met the most fantastic, motivated, and headstrong people I hope to remain in touch with for the rest of my life. Although my dreams of the renowned traditional Trinity graduation were met short, at least for this year, I cannot wait to unite with my fellow Bantams ’neath the elms soon.
“We’re together today, and tomorrow away, far away from our old Trinity.” The past four years have flown by so quickly, the memories of my first steps, the first friends I made, the first classes I took, and the challenges of my first year at college are all still very loud and sound to me.
As I look back at my time ’neath the elms, I find it really hard to pin down a single best memory. However, I look most fondly on the many small get-togethers with my peers, faculty, and staff in the dining hall, classrooms, offices, our dorm rooms, and the library and during occasional outings with a group, dinner trips, chats stretching into the morning hours, competitions, trips abroad, and much more. The people I met along the way and the memories I made with each and every single one of them are the most exhilarating highlights of my time at Trinity.
While it hurts that we left without saying goodbye to one another, I hope that my peers remember some words from our alma mater: “College days are from care and sorrow free. And oft will we seek in memory those days that are past, far too joyous to last, ’neath the elms of our old Trinity.”
5 Words to Describe My Trinity Experience:
I’m honored to have graduated from Trinity and incredibly grateful for the friends and memories I made along the way. Although my time was cut short, being able to spend my final few weeks with my closest friends has given us the opportunity to reflect on the many wonderful times we’ve shared together in Hartford and beyond. I will miss the people, places, and professors that I hold so dearly close to my heart, but I know that wherever I am, I will always be able to call Trinity home. Thank you to my family, friends, and thesis adviser, Professor Holt, who have supported me throughout my years at Trinity. Congrats to the Class of 2020!
I have been working as a professional emergency medical technician (EMT) in my hometown for the past six years. Throughout these six years, I have managed to hold several other jobs and also perform as a full-time student, both in high school and at Trinity. Most of my shifts consist of 12-plus hours on board an ambulance responding to 911 emergencies in my city and the surrounding towns.
When COVID-19 took the world by storm in early 2020, I knew that my role as an EMT was never more important. After the decision to move to online learning was made by the administration, I moved back home and worked for my service’s COVID Response Team. In my new role, I managed inventory, organized methods of disinfecting, and transported COVID-positive patients to local hospitals. My town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, was hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Almost every emergency call was a suspected coronavirus patient. Each day, I worried about the dwindling supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). No matter how hard we tried to avoid it, exposure to the virus was inevitable.
I picked up extra shifts to protect some of my older colleagues so that they would not be at risk of catching the virus. A few of my co-workers were diagnosed with the virus, so I stepped up and covered their shifts as well. At times, I was clocking 60–70 hours of work on top of being a double major in economics and Italian studies. I even took some of my virtual classes while sitting in my ambulance on the road or at the hospital. However, I would not trade this life for anything. There is no better feeling than being able to help your community in the times when they need it the most while simultaneously fulfilling a lifetime dream: graduating college.
I am truly thankful for my four years at Trinity College. The support from my peers, the faculty, and the entire Trinity community during this pandemic has made me proud to call myself a forever Bantam.
I am grateful for the time I spent at Trinity, even though it ended so unconventionally this past spring. The most impactful aspect of my time at the college has been the support network of amazing professors within my two majors as well as the level of intellectualism I have found inside and outside the classroom. Wrapping up my academic experience on Zoom was certainly a challenge at first, but my classmates and professors worked extremely hard to make this new environment the best it could be. Presenting my senior thesis online was certainly a different experience than what I had come to expect from the classes before me, but it was still wonderful to see my friends and professors online, who have supported me throughout my time at Trinity.
In my work at admissions, we have done our best to provide prospective students and the incoming Class of 2024 with as normal of an introduction to college as possible! My work as a student admissions associate, both interviewing prospective students and chatting with admitted students about Trinity, has shifted entirely online. It is harder to develop those same connections with students online, but this incoming class has many truly extraordinary students.
I’m looking forward to becoming an alumna of the college. In my first weeks home following spring break, I received a very kind, handwritten note from Lisa Block ’80, expressing her sympathies for the Class of 2020’s unique situation. While this has been a difficult time for everyone, this proved to me that the Trinity network is as strong as ever.
SALMA ALAM EL DIN