Student Stories: Donna Krauss
This was the semester I decided to take two classes. As a full-time local government employee balancing my time is a daily challenge, but as I approached the half-way mark through my program, I thought I can do this! Mid-way through the semester the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Over these last six weeks, I have heard many people say we are all in this together and we are not alone, but it is not like that. We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. We each have our own perceptions and needs. For some, quarantine is optimal, providing moments of reflection, of re-connection, more time with family. For others, it is a financial crisis and family crisis. For essential, front-line workers, it means endless hours away from home, the struggle to find some time to reflect and focus on self-care- all during a roller coaster ride of emotions. Designated essential, the first two weeks I struggled to navigate the day to day. Honestly, I did not think of my classes once during that time. I was working intense 12 hour days that were filled with making organizational decisions, trying to discern the changing environment and navigating the impact to our community. Suddenly, graduate school seemed irrelevant. I found myself faced with deadlines for assignments related to what I was actually living through. As the weeks went on, I carried a mental tiredness I have never experienced. My days consisted of spending hours upon hours in discussion and decision making, supporting my staff who were struggling, fielding calls from community partners who were fearful, and having to pivot every time an urgent situation would arise. I would return home and could not string a coherent sentence together much less attempt to work on a paper for class.
ODU was supportive, my professors understanding. I reached out to each of my professors to explain my situation and both were responsive and encouraging. As we neared the end of the semester, and the day to day in my world has somewhat stabilized, I am now attempting to put my head into my studies and complete my work to the best of my ability. We will prevail, we will all complete our classes for the semester, and one day we will reflect back upon this time and recognize this experience has shaped and defined us in ways we did not even recognize.