Olivia Papp ’23
Colleges across the United States this year have been confronted with a highly unpredictable environment, laced with anxiety and stress. From a global standpoint, it seems the presence of COVID-19 has impacted learning environments in negative ways. In addition to the regular academic stress, students and faculty alike may be experiencing anxiety caused by COVID-19. It generally seems that Trinity students are happy to be back on campus. However, as the semester has progressed, students have become less and less enthusiastic. Speaking with Sophia Malenfant ’23, Julie Petrillo ’22, and Emma McGraw ’23, the three Trinity students offered insight into their mental health this year and explained how they have remained positive amidst this unsettling time.
Sophia Malenfant ’23 has an interesting perspective on the matter, as this year she had to stay home for personal matters. A number of students in the Trinity community this semester have also decided to stay home and continue their Trinity education remotely. While the Trinity experience this year may be different for each of us, the community has gained a sense of comradery as we have endured the tumultuous year together.
Malenfant offered that she has “had to say home and commute to my one in-person class due to COVID-19. This has been a lot different from my freshman year experience.”
Last year, Malenfant lived on campus where she resided in Wheaton Hall as a first-year student. She was ultimately disappointed about the substantial turn in events this year, as she was no longer able to see her friends daily. However, Malenfant stated that, “everyone has to make sacrifices this year for the greater good. Hopefully, by next year, I will be able to live on campus again.”
Malenfant relayed that “living at home and not being surrounded by my friends is something that has taken a toll on my mental health. After a long week of schoolwork, it is normal to want to hang out with friends. Being able to safely socialize, in accordance with CDC guidelines, as a reward for making it through another week of academics is something I miss a lot.” Malenfant clarified that her situation is not ideal, in that “living at home has prevented me from being able to give myself an outlet that does not involve writing a paper, reading a book, or taking notes. The ongoing cycle, week after week, of not being able to see my friends or visit campus has affected my mental health negatively. I do not have a chance to remove myself from a studious and school-oriented environment and replace it with one that can offer fun and relaxation.”
Malenfant mentioned that it is important to remain optimistic and grateful, and that what keeps her positive, “even as a day student, is that hopefully soon everything will return to normal. Hopefully, by next year there will be a vaccine, and things will start to relax more. Until then, I think it’s important for the community who reside both on and off-campus to continue to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure the community’s safety and health.”
Jules Petrillo ’22, offered her opinion on the matter, as well. This year, Petrillo is happy to be living in Jarvis with her friends.
“My mental health at Trinity has definitely been better. I think because things are so different, I find that it takes a toll on everyone’s mental health. Online class can be difficult for everyone because it is such an unusual setting that no one has been in before,” said Petrillo.
“Because of COVID, there’s no more sitting in Mather with teammates and friends. Instead, I now find myself spending a lot of time in my room because that’s what is necessary,” remarked Petrillo.
Trinity is doing their best to maintain our stay on campus and ensure students have as normal an experience as possible given the circumstances.
While it has been an anxious year for everyone, Petrillo recommends a few ways to improve mentalities. “It’s so important to work out. Do anything you can. Workout, use weights, do some cardio. Try to make the best of the situation. Get outside every day and go for walks. This will not last forever. Everyone is in the same boat so check in with your friends and try to stay as active as possible!”
Emma McGraw ’23 mentioned that it was difficult to adapt to Trinity’s COVID-19 mandates at first, but overtime she was able to adjust well. Although no games are being held this fall, McGraw is happy to have the opportunity to practice volleyball with her teammates. After Trinity went back to alert level green, and she was able to go back to practicing, McGraw felt as though her mental health had greatly improved.
“I know, especially during this time, it is difficult to remain positive. But it is so important to find something you’re passionate about and set time aside to do that. Whether it be painting, kicking around a soccer ball, or even sitting in the quad, make sure to find some time to do something you love.”
McGraw had to fly into Hartford from San Diego, California a full 14 days before most of the other students arrived, in order to quarantine. Being alone for that long span of time made it difficult for McGraw to adapt to Trinity’s COVID-19 mandates at first. However, when her roommates each moved in, McGraw was relieved to find she was not the only one overwhelmed by the new rules.
McGraw is also a member of the volleyball team at Trinity, and found it difficult to adjust with cancelled practices. Although no games are being held this fall, McGraw is nonetheless happy to have the opportunity to practice.