JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Rachel Mayo is a student at Jacksonville State University. She is a well-rounded student who spends her dedicated time being involved on campus. She’s involved in PRSSA, Student Ambassadors, and an executive member for Zeta Phi Eta in the communications department.
Being involved on campus has been challenging for Rachel as she navigates her way in a world where students cannot interact with other students. Living life through a screen Is a newfound way of “human interaction.” In the early stages of the pandemic, Rachel began to discover her own definition of human interaction. “ Before COVID, we pretty much had a normal college life. We didn’t have to wear masks, students could come to class in person.”
“It was weird to adapt to at first, but now it’s a little more easier since we have been in this for a year.” Rachel says.
Rachel is originally from Glencoe, Alabama. As a transfer student, she has to travel approximately 35 minutes to class. Students are separated into two groups for lecture days, half hybrid and half online, under COVID-19 protocols for the University. Students are required to wear a mask and sit approximately six feet apart for lecture days. After class, the students are required to spray down all the seats and tables before leaving the classroom.
Rachel says it’s difficult due to travel because of gaps in between classes. “When you have nowhere to go, it’s difficult because I would have to drive home, wait a couple of hours, then come to class.” Rachel says.
Students also had challenges with their mental health on and off-campus. Students are allowed free access to the counseling center at Jacksonville State University. Counselors are available 24/7 to students who may need help during this time of COVID-19.
Mental health has been one of the main focuses on campus. Professors engage with their students beyond their course work to ask students how they could help better the overall experience for students.
Professors would have weekly meetings with students, helping them to succeed in and out of the classroom. They wanted to make sure the students understood the curriculum, and they wanted to build a relationship through communication on and off-campus.
When asked about her mental health, Rachel explained, “It’s been hard when it comes to my mental health. It has definitely changed my personality as well as my mental health.”
“Before the pandemic, I considered myself introverted and now with COVID, I consider myself extroverted because I wasn’t able to see anyone for six months” Rachel admitted.
The biggest challenge for Rachel was the fact she could not see her mother for long periods of time during the beginning of the pandemic. “I was raised by my grandmother, who is in that high risk age group. For the first few months of COVID, specifically in March through June, I wasn’t able to see her. If I did, I had to sit in my car with my mask on and she would be in the house,” Rachel recalls.
Rachel decided to live with her Aunt and Uncle during the first few months of the pandemic, and adapted to her new way of living for the sake of her mother.
Overall, Rachel Mayo was able to adapt and continue to strive in this time of uncertainty. Her way of interacting with others now, has helped her to be more appreciative when It comes to human interaction. Whether it’s through Facetime, or six feet apart, Rachel’s new way of human interaction is a way for her to show love through simply wearing a mask, and protecting her loved ones by just being aware and being safe.