Covid-19 Puts Things in Perspective for This Undergrad

This article was written by Jenevieve Surkin, biomedical engineering student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and SWE Collegiate member.


Covid-19 Puts Things in Perspective for This Undergrad covid
Jenevieve Surkin

COVID-19 is life-changing in a time-reversing way. When I was younger, my life revolved around my home and family and now as I return, it feels like I’m half-finished. I left searching for independence, for who I am as a single being. And now as Covid hits schools, many of us, myself included, are left grappling for that newfound person while reverting back to the familiar coat of youth.

My adjustment to this old me involved a lot of change on my end to push against many of my less independent tendencies. Not being able to go to an environment where others are working like a library or coffeeshop, and not having the structure of high school lead me to reevaluate my techniques to avoid procrastination. I created a “break menu” upon which I could choose anything from leash training my dogs, to entering the world of mother nature and learning to garden. I increased my efforts to avoid the mind trap of YouTube and social media by not only blocking them on my computer, but also by becoming more conscious of my intentions. Which is especially necessary when my wonderful uncle sends me a set of Agathe Christie nail-biting murder mysteries and the physical world does not allow me to “block” my access to books the way my computer would.

Honestly, I’ve been working on this since my first semester of college with my Academic Coach through UNC Chapel Hill’s learning center and am always growing; Covid-19 has just given me the opportunity to test it out in a place and mindset where I am far more prone to enjoy the escape of anything really instead of checking off the things on my to-do list. 

When it comes to the social aspect of Covid, I am social distancing, I have not left home aside from the essentials since March and since the semester has started, am juggling classes and clubs in which I really value giving my all. That being said, I realize the importance for the human mind to have social interaction. I have been able to set up zoom meetups which I really enjoy, but internet connectivity can make things especially difficult when you have a twin sister and younger sister who are all on the internet at the same time. Covid is taking away the opportunity to smile at a new friend, to say ‘hi’ in the hallway, or to even see facial expressions and body language of peers and teachers. But at the same time, I don’t think I would have valued the experiences I had last year as much as I do now, nor anticipate with as much excitement the return to school in person. 

I don’t think I would have valued the experiences I had last year as much as I do now, nor anticipate with as much excitement the return to school in person.

As someone who attended online high school in addition to regular high school during my junior and senior year (through the North Carolina School of Science and Math online program), I think I am able to better appreciate the advantages and also the difference between online classes before and during Covid. Now, a larger emphasis is placed on having your video camera on, and setting up class GroupMe’s as well as taking a mental break from coursework to have everyone show their pets! One of my favorite online class sessions so far was when my Math professor showed his dog, resulting in a chain reaction of people’s fish, cats, dogs, and other animals showing up on my Zoom screen in a class of over 100 people. I think it’s those moments when you really have to appreciate what online classes bring us as people instead of what they take away. And that’s what I’m trying to do.


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Author(s) Information

  • Covid-19 Puts Things in Perspective for This Undergrad covid Jenevieve Surkin

    Jenevieve Surkin is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is exploring her love of Mandarin and biomedical engineering (BME) through the amazing Society of Women Engineers and network of BME clubs. She first began her involvement in SWE through her FIRST robotics team #2682 Boneyard Robotics and her local SWENext chapter in high school and is so excited to be able to continue to be a part of SWE with an amazing group of people. Her favorite area in BME thus far is neuroprosthetics, but she is also very interested in other areas of wearable tech, especially in Anouk Wipprecht’s fashion technology work on an ADHD detection headband, otherwise known as "Magical Unicorn Horn," to diagnose and provide a more specialized treatment plan for people with ADHD. Jenevieve has also been learning Mandarin since she was six years old and her love of the language has led her to discover biomedical engineering in a global health setting as well as double major in BME and Asian Studies with a Chinese concentration. Jenevieve is also a major dog-lover, trekkie, chocolate connoisseur, aspiring poet, avid reader, and robotics fanatic.

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