Students Tell Their Stories About the Effects of COVID-19
By Tiana Campbell
The past year has caused massive changes not only in daily life but in future planning as well; the question is, are the effects good or bad? For some, COVID-19 has been a time of self-improvement and learning, while for others it has been a period of stagnation.
Eden Kim, a sophomore biology pre-dentistry major, opened up about her transition over the past year. Before COVID-19, she was known to be very social within her friend group, going to movies, small hangouts, and family gatherings. She also focused on school, wanting to complete it fast, knowing exactly what she wanted to do and having everything planned out. 
Eden was in online speech class one day listening to others talk about what they have done in their lives, and it caused her to have a moment of self-reflection. She said, “I just realized there are so many things that I have not tried or done, just simply because I have had my eyes so laser focused on one goal of having a career that I have not enjoyed my life up till this point.” 
In the past, she thought she had to meet certain expectations to be happy. She was hyper-focused on her track to dental school and avoided anything that strayed from her plan. Through COVID-19 and quarantine, however, she has become well balanced by stepping out of her comfort zone and trying new things and has set more realistic expectations for herself. 
Eden explained, “My quality of life has increased tremendously.” She has experienced massive self-growth, mentally and spiritually, and has learned to thrive within her new expectations. She is even planning to travel abroad to Spain in her senior year, something she hadn’t even considered before. 
However, not everyone has had a positive experience through COVID-19. For others, it was a time of stress as plans were changed, like senior theology major, John Aitken III.
Last year in December, Aitken got engaged to Briana Hernandez right before WWU students were sent home for spring quarter. Thankfully, Aitken and Hernandez live close back home in California, so they didn’t have to be long distance during quarantine. However, they did have to make changes to their wedding plans. 
Since weddings must be planned so far in advance, Aitken explained, they made a plan that if the pandemic wasn’t getting better by a certain date, then they would have to compromise on some wedding details. Aitken noted, “We were going to have a really big reception with like a live band. It was going to be really fun with food and everything.” Now they are having an intimate ceremony with family and planning a bigger reception for next year. 
Their honeymoon plans also had to be postponed till later this year. They originally wanted to go to Paris or Greece, but now they will be having a mini honeymoon in Palm Springs before road tripping to Seattle, where they will move together after getting married. 
Aitken has also experienced the negative effects of COVID-19 with his leadership in Circle Church. He said it was a challenge to have limited capacity and a smaller band. He thinks it will be a long transition back to normalcy, but he has grown in “not being driven by results but being more driven by people.” He recognizes that normalcy is going to be an adjustment for the entire world and is interested to see the effects it will have on society. 
- Interview with Eden Kim, 5/18/2021.
- Interview with John Aitken III, 5/19/2021.