COVID OR CO-ED?

Living through a pandemic before their 20s: We asked Keys graduates about their plans for continuing their college education amid coronavirus. This is one C you DON’T want to get.

Living through a pandemic before their 20s: We asked Keys graduates about their plans for continuing their college education amid coronavirus. This is one C you DON’T want to get.

SARAH KELLEY

Hometown: Islamorada

College: Full Sail University

Major: Bachelor’s degree in creative writing

What are your plans for the fall semester? I’m planning to live in Orlando while taking my online classes and simultaneously pursue extra-curricular activities outside of my primary schoolwork.

Are you concerned about the quality of education? I am not concerned about the quality of my education online due to the fact that Full Sail has formulated its own online curriculum which is designed to hold the same quality of education as the in-person classes. All of my classes are online until January 2021.

Do you have any concerns about returning to campus? I do not have concerns about how covid will affect my social life because I live off campus and the social scene at Full Sail does not parallel that of a traditional university. When I inevitably return to campus, I will most likely wear a face mask and reduce social interactions to maintain my health and the safety of others.

ZYBO MARCHETTI

Hometown: Islamorada

College: SUNY Maritime

Major: Marine operations

What are your plans for the fall semester? My plans for the fall semester are to go back to campus in New York City. All of my classes are in-person, none are online.

Do you have any concerns about returning to campus? I am definitely concerned about others going back to campus. I don’t know how my school will monitor or prevent the spread of the virus, but I will wear my mask in all public areas and use a lot of hand sanitizer.

Oriana Mendez

Hometown: Marathon

College: University of Florida 

Major: Finance 

What are your plans for the fall semester? I’m moving back up to my apartment… I can’t really get out of the lease so that’s one of the reasons I’m going back.

Are you concerned about the quality of education? All of my classes will be online, unfortunately. It’s hard to come up with a routine and stay on top of things if everything’s online, so it does make it more of a challenge. 

Would you still choose to go back to campus regardless? I feel like definitely I would because you’re paying for it. My sorority is going to do mostly virtual events, especially for recruitment. I don’t want to miss out on the college experience. We only get four years and everybody says it goes by quick. So, I’m trying to get the most out of it.

Do you have any concerns about how COVID-19 will affect social life on campus? I’m definitely worried about people or myself catching COVID, but I feel like it’s a part of life now. You can protect yourselves with masks and take the necessary precautions. It should all be ok, I think.

Aaron Tipsword

Hometown: Marathon

College: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Major: Aerospace engineering

Aaron will be living on campus and taking in-person classes for the fall semester. 

Do you have any online courses? None online, I don’t think they’re offered. (Embry-Riddle) has been rolling with the in-person idea from the start.

Do you have any concerns about returning to campus? I think in-person classes have an inherent risk, but I don’t do great with online classes, so I’m okay with it. Online would be good, but I couldn’t take a full 16 credits. 

Do you have any concerns about how COVID-19 will affect social life on campus? I feel like people will spread COVID after being on campus for a few weeks and we’ll be sent back home. I’m just going to sit in my dorm because I have no desire to further expose myself. I’m going to wear a mask, keep my hand sanitizer on me always, be careful about touching surfaces, and try my best to keep my distance from people.

Blake Wilson

Hometown: Key West

College: Bucknell University

Major: Political science

What are your plans for the fall semester? We resume classes mid August and we will be there until the start of Thanksgiving break. Our final exams are remote so we will have online instruction for about a week after Thanksgiving, followed by the online exams. 

Are you concerned about the quality of education? If we get sent home again, I will have concerns about my education. Finishing up the year online was really difficult for me. My school didn’t offer any online classes prior to being forced to, so it was new for everyone on campus — including professors. It’s hard to maintain the difficult course material without that personal connection.

Do you have any concerns about returning to campus? I am not extremely concerned about going back, given the precautions the school is taking. We have two rounds of mandatory testing before we go back to school, and then once we arrive will be tested biweekly. They are really determined to keep us on campus and healthy. 

Do you have plans to minimize the risk of catching COVID-19? I think the precautions my university is taking are going to help a lot. I’m hoping if we all follow the guidelines, we can return to somewhat of a normal college lifestyle. This is definitely not something I ever expected to experience in my lifetime. It’s now more than ever we need to function with unity.

Kingston Young

Hometown: Key West

College: University of Florida

Major: Computer science engineering 

Kingston Young will not be returning to campus in the fall. “It was a really hard decision to make, but for me personally, it didn’t make much sense to return right away.” He said he plans to return to campus once the virus rates in Florida stabilize.

Are you concerned about the quality of education? I’m definitely concerned. I will be taking some very important classes for my major this upcoming semester, and while I am sad that I will not receive the same immersive experience that UF gave me my freshman year, I feel very fortunate to be in a major that can easily be taught online. 

Do you have any concerns about going back to campus? I am pretty pessimistic about the reopening of campus. I don’t see a scenario where the virus could be contained in Gainesville. For the most part, I am concerned for the older professors returning to campus as well as the parents of some students who will possibly be exposed to the virus.


Do you have any concerns about how COVID-19 will affect social life on campus? Right now, I am involved with research in the computer science department with my mentor, Dr. Ragan, and I will miss the running club as well as finding a fun filmmaking club to join. I’m just hoping this is the first and last semester of this disaster. I miss normal school too much to go through another COVID-filled semester.

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