Loyola University Chicago

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On the Homefront

On the Homefront

Dan Collazo

Major: Journalism, Sociology minor
Year: Senior
Hometown: Chicago, IL

How has COVID-19 impacted you?

I haven't been too personally impacted by COVID, thank goodness. I don't have any of the symptoms and nobody in my household has anything like that either, which is really good. I have my internship at the American Dental Association, and luckily, I'm still able to work from home… at least it’s some source of income. I'm really grateful for it. I thought they would be the first one to pull the plug since it's an internship. I know like so many people have said [their] internships have just canceled it entirely.
 
It's made job hunting pretty hard, just due to the fact the economy is already screwed up. My one part-time gig [with] the Cubs had to… furlough me. So I’m not working for them at all or getting any sort of income from them. And that's happening to a lot of the part-timers… Obviously the season isn't happening and that's where they get their income from, so they can't afford to pay people. It was kind of a disheartening phone call. I knew that I was going to quit soon, but I wanted it to be on my terms. That was a bit hard to wrap my mind around, but for the most part, I'm pretty much over it and I understand why they had to do that.
 
I’m a commuter student… [this has] made me realize that I definitely need to get my own place. But, it's been pretty good, not super different, but I'm definitely [feeling] like that sort of stir-crazy tension where I have to like take a step back and just like don't say the first thing that comes to my mind.
 
But, I can't lose my understanding of the situation. If I have the door closed, I never have my bedroom door closed cause I hate feeling confined, but they know that when the door is closed, I'm doing something for school or I'm doing something for work. I'm on a zoom call or whatever.

Being the public relations and media director for Inigo, how has the transition been to working remotely as a student-run public relations firm? 

Luckily, we can utilize zoom to meet up. So, we have our team meetings on Tuesday evenings and we have our regular all staff meetings on Thursday evenings. So we utilize zoom for that. We've been able to transition pretty well for the most part. All of our work has been turned in on time. We fulfilled our contracts with our clients, so they receive all of the work that we created for them and I think we all pretty much transitioned pretty well for the most part. That's just due to our great leadership with our firm director Maddy Baltas and our faculty advisor Cheryl McPhilimy. They really handled the situation well. Their confidence definitely spread throughout the agency where we all felt confident to get our work done.
 
Luckily, as an organization, we have mentors who work professionally in PR and our mentors really stepped up to the plate to lend a hand in terms of helping with our work. You know, double checking for any errors, providing any additional feedback. That obviously helped us even more just to have that extra pair of eyes look at our stuff.
 
I think we did the transition really well and we were able to succeed.

How has your transition been to online classes? 

The transition has been a little rocky. So this semester I am [taking] six courses. Three of them are my core classes, like my last minute core I was dreading to take. Luckily, I don't have a final for my tier two science class that was just said from the first day of classes, so I don't have to worry about that too much. For my Spanish class, it's Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but we're only meeting Wednesdays over zoom, which is really nice. I don't have to worry about [logging] on every single day. But she does throw out so many small assignments to make up any points and it's been a little difficult to keep track of every single little thing. I just get so overwhelmed with the announcement emails from Sakai. I appreciate the communication by just hate getting like five of them from the same class in a row.
 
For the most part, the transition has been somewhat decent. It's just like there's no motivation to finish essentially, since we're both seniors, so I feel like we definitely have that senioritis.

How have you been trying to stay motivated and positive during this difficult time? 

I always do this regardless, but just writing down every single due date. I like that feeling of crossing off something off a list and like checking those boxes.
 
Whenever the weather's pretty nice, I’ll go for a quick walk around my neighborhood just to get some fresh air and get some sort of sunlight. For the most part, I'm just writing things out and setting reminders on my phone and my computer. 

How does it feel being a senior during all of this?

It feels very overwhelmingly underwhelming because we worked really hard for this moment and then we don't get a ceremony, we don't get to do any of the senior activities.
 
I had to think of it this way, I have to understand it. There's a reason why we can't do this and I have to trust the process. It's just kind of hard. It's really difficult to wrap my mind around because two months ago, I ordered my cap and gown. I [was] ready for this.

Do you think we as a society will learn anything from this?

Not to be dramatic about it, but I was speaking to one of my mentors through Inigo and she was saying that, this seems like a pretty extreme comparison, but this is like our generation's sort of 9-11 in terms of how this going to be a very historical moment and a lot of people are gonna ask what you were doing during COVID? What was your quarantine situation like?
 
Then, you have half of the people protesting the shelter rules and stuff like that. But then you have like the other half of people who are supporting what's happening and just supporting healthcare workers and really taking everything into consideration.
 
I think it’s going to take so so much of us, like as a society, to really bounce back and to cope from this. There's just so many factors that I never would've thought of. All these factors are going to be affected. And then now that you look at it, it's like, yeah, not a lot of people are going to sporting events anytime soon. Nobody's going to be eating out anytime soon or sitting in restaurants or taking flights or anything.
 
I think a lot of people are going to understand what they took for granted before COVID-19. I think that's going to be a factor that plays into it as well as we move beyond this and try to recover.

How has this crisis shown you the beauty in humanity?

A lot of people are coming together, like singing outside their windows. People making masks for healthcare workers or just for people in general. Like, I have seen that kindness in the news and on social media.
 
People being willing to share resources and spending their money on others who are less fortunate. I feel like those stories are definitely the highlights to the situation and trying to make light of the situation. And I think those are really great things to hold on to and to remember.
 
We have to remember every single thing because that's important for society in history. But we definitely need to really highlight those like small but gentle moments and heartwarming moments.

Interview by Sydney Owens. Condensed and edited for clarity.
 
 

Past interviews:

    Morgan Ciocca  - Kansas City, Kansas
     Layla Chavez - Indianapolis, Indiana
     Andie Cuevas - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
      Boe Chmil - Chicago, Illinois
     Minh Ha (Millie) Le - Hanoi, Vietnam
     Ava Francesca Battocchio - Duluth, Minnesota
     Alexandra Ditoro - Alabaster, Alabama
     Gabriel Paredes-Reyes - Omaha, Nebraska