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Student Series 03: Zoom In to Zoom Out    

Student Series 03: Zoom In to Zoom Out

Artwork by FISK

BY MARISSA IGUNBOR

In September I will start my senior year of college from my couch, or my bed, or my living room, or maybe my boyfriend’s living room... I’m not quite sure yet. At our school, we were able to choose between in-person, hybrid, or online classes for the fall quarter. Although it probably would have been more productive for my learning to actually be in class, I kind of enjoy the freedom of being able to Zoom in from wherever I happen to be at the time. Not to mention, the fact that it is my senior year of college means that I may or may not have worn my pajamas to class either way. In all seriousness, continuing to navigate this pandemic will definitely be a challenge even though I have decided to go back to school virtually this fall.

At my university, our community prides itself on academic rigor. As a result, I have peers who have chosen to risk attending in-person classes and argue this is the only way to properly obtain their education. Similarly, I know students who have chosen to forego this academic quarter all together, in hopes that school will be “back to normal” in the near future. So why did I choose to go back to school, and to do so virtually? The answer has everything to do with who I am as a human being.

What does it mean to be a young, educated, biracial, black woman in 2020? To me, it means that while living through the coronavirus pandemic, you must also survive the systematic racism that has plagued our country for much longer. It means that you must risk your life, and your family’s lives, to protest for the value of black lives. It means that even though communities of color are at a higher risk of COVID-19, that we must show up to the polls because voting in this election could truly be a matter of life or death. It means that while you may want to curl up into the fetal position, others will turn to you for answers, assistance, and guidance. It means that even with the odds stacked against you, against us, we are expected to prevail. In the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and tragedy, we must continue to lead and to learn.

This is truly the reason I am going back to school, although be it virtually; there is so much more work to be done. Sure, I could have opted to do in-person classes with a mask on; however, it will be safer for myself and my loved ones to remain relatively isolated. As for taking a quarter or more off from class, frankly, I have no other choice than to utilize the privilege of education that I have been given to make our world a better place as quickly as I can. I am going back to school now, so that as soon as possible, I can become a psychiatrist.... so that as soon as possible, I will be able to treat the people of color who are and will be disproportionately impacted by both this pandemic and the continued racist climate of our country.

I hate to be a debbie downer, but the realist in me is terrified that this could be the beginning of the end. How long will it take to develop a vaccine? Will my friends and I have a graduation? Why should I work towards earning A’s if there might not be a population to serve after I finish medical school? Will there even be a planet Earth in 10 years? Part of me wants to silence the anxiety in my brain, the other part is nervous that others aren’t worried enough. Can we find a way to push our political differences aside for the sake of humanity? Will empathy overcome egos?

In the spirit of this blog, I will end with some words of encouragement. May this generation of students overcome adversity and oppression. May we practice empathy and commit to equity. May we wear our masks, and Zoom into class. May we be the change we wish to see in the world.

Marissa recently started a YouTube channel about her mental and physical health journey - check out her video on mental health here and mental health in college here!