Fenwick 2017 alumnae the Ritten triplets are eLearning together (but separately) in Oak Park, as they finish their junior years in college. The sisters reflect on the Coronavirus pandemic’s effect on their experiences.
Maria Ritten ’17 (at right) is majoring in political science (and minoring in poverty studies and sociology) at the University of Notre Dame:
In these strange and unprecedented times of COVID-19 and social distancing, the last phrase I ever want to hear again is “in these strange and unprecedented times.” After being away from Notre Dame for over a month now, I have seen, heard and said this phrase more times than I ever could have anticipated. I hate the formality of it. While “in these strange and unprecedented times” is undeniably accurate, I think that its use is basically us saying, “now that I’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we can get back to how we normally act.”
But nothing is normal.
Fortunately for me, several of my professors seem to be on the same page. During our Zoom sessions, one of my professors has made it a point to ask each student how they are doing, really doing. Rather than beginning class with a quick hello and diving into material, he gives us time to talk about our real feelings about this pandemic. Our conversations have included topics such as how to celebrate a birthday during quarantine, good TV shows to binge, and how it is nice to be spending more time with our families.
While these positive conversations have been a source of light for me, we have also discussed the situations of classmates who are away from home and missing their families, or how the seniors felt after their graduation was postponed until next year. These conversations, although limited, have been one of the few formal settings during this quarantine in which I have felt encouraged to talk about my real experience. In asking us about our feelings, whether good or bad, my professor is enabling my classmates and me to acknowledge that nothing is normal, and that our thoughts, fears and hopes are all valid. While these are “strange and unprecedented times,” I am grateful for these Zoom sessions because they have taught me one of the most important lessons of my college career: When life throws a curveball, it is more important to reflect on the situation and acknowledge its impact than to pretend it never happened and just move on.
Missing New Orleans
Bridget Ritten ’17 (center) has a double major in public health and sociology at Tulane University:
For most people, New Orleans is a place to party and eat great food. However, New Orleans is much more than that, and for the last three years I have been lucky enough to call it my home.
I love New Orleans because it is the opposite of every city in America. Most cities are fast-paced and stressful while New Orleans is slow, easy-going and fun. New Orleans reminds me of a party that celebrates life that everyone is invited to. Unfortunately, there is not much to be celebrating these days as Coronavirus has spread throughout the nation, and particularly in New Orleans.
Fortunately, my family and I are healthy and have been sheltering in place in our home in Oak Park. Over the last month, many college students have been thinking about and missing their friends, classmates and classes. Although I have also been missing those things, I have often found myself thinking about New Orleans and wishing I were there.
I miss the live oaks that line St. Charles, the normalcy of strangers calling you “baby,” and the friendliness of NOLA Uber drivers. My heart breaks knowing that my favorite city is suffering right now, but I will be back soon.
After this pandemic ends I hope other cities start to live more like New Orleans. New Orleanians live in the moment because they know that another hurricane, flood or, in this case, a pandemic is around the corner. However, they also know that these are obstacles that can be overcome. As a Public Health student, it is imperative that the United States needs to invest more money into healthcare and prioritize prevention in the chance that something like this occurs again.
However, I also hope this country starts to celebrate life and living in the moment. Being home from college has made me realize, as the great Louis Armstrong would say, how lucky I am to know what it means to miss New Orleans.
Disappointment of a canceled internship
Annie Ritten ’17 (left) is double-majoring in marketing and film, television and theater at the University of Notre Dame:
Junior year of college has been a period of growth and maturity for me. After spending a semester abroad, being an upperclassmen on campus, and finally turning 21, I have started to feel like an actual adult for the first time. And with being an adult comes the ever-important task of developing a future career.
Thus, the first half of my spring semester mostly consisted of seeking various internship opportunities that will help kick-start my career path. After numerous resume drafts, references from professors, and first- to third-round interviews, I accepted a position in March to work as a marketing intern for Under Armour. Specifically, I would be joining the Women’s Branding team, working on creative brief writing, brand campaign execution, photo shoots and influencer-marketing for the sports apparel brand.
As a marketing and film double major, the focus on branding and media was a dream come true for me and something that I have been looking forward to immensely. However, due to COVID-19, I found out in mid-April that the internship is no longer occurring. I completely understand and respect the cancellation, as the safety and wellness of myself and others is of upmost importance right now, but I cannot say that I am not upset with the news. It is difficult to not be able to see my hard work come to fruition, and what felt like a step forward in my career now feels like two steps back. But I know that I will be just fine.
Due to the wonderful Fenwick education and values that I have continued to grow and develop over the past three years, I know that my career will work out, regardless of whether or not I have an internship this summer. In the meantime, rather than dwelling on the negatives, I will focus on the fun times spent with my family, the Zoom calls with friends, and the free time to focus on my hobbies.