This is not the semester I expected for the beginning of my senior year at the University of Redlands.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am writing from my friend’s grandmother’s house located in upstate New York, where I am living with the three Bulldogs who would have been my roommates in the Brockton Avenue Apartments. We also have spent some time in a cabin in Wilmington, Vermont. We’re making the most of an unexpected semester.
As a double major in political science and public policy with a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies, my classes are incredibly interesting this semester. Even though we aren’t sitting in the Hall of Letters, the learning is still engaging and the conversational class style hasn’t been lost. We’re in a groove now and our professors are trying new things, but sometimes I miss being able to turn to the person next to me or physically raise my hand in class.
Many of the campus organizations I am involved in are meeting virtually this semester. I am serving as the senate chair in the Associated Students of University of Redlands (ASUR), where I oversee the projects and committees of 12 senators—I learned you can still get to know someone through a screen! I am also the president of Maroon and Grey Student Ambassadors, a role that allows me to engage with alumni and hear their stories, and I’m the risk management director for my sorority, Delta Kappa Psi. The most challenging transition to an online role was my job working as a lead admissions Bulldog ambassador. However, we are hard at work trying new ways, such as online panels and virtual tours, to showcase Redlands to prospective students!
Through the generosity of the Warren Christopher Public Service Scholarship and my financial aid, I have been able to thrive on and off campus and try new things I never thought possible. Without this support, I never would have been able to travel abroad to Barcelona, Spain, last fall, and I will take those experiences with me for the rest of my life. Last spring, I interned for Congressman Pete Aguilar, receiving community service credit and learning what it takes to run a campaign. This summer, I received the Tinker Scholarship, which allowed me to intern remotely at the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Even though I was not physically in D.C, I learned what working for a government agency really looks like and enjoyed my time as an intern. All of these meaningful experiences have shaped my vocational goals, and I have Redlands to thank.
Being a student can be stressful because you’re always thinking about your next paper or exam. Now there is an extra layer of stress that never goes away, the global pandemic, which has dramatically changed the dynamic of what it means to be a student right now. I am thinking about my fellow Bulldogs who are struggling—maybe they don’t have stable Wi-Fi or are facing a significant mental health challenge. There are so many huge needs right now in our University community, and I appreciate the alumni and friends who want to support us students during these challenging times.
Even in this unexpected year, I am so thankful. I would not be the person I am today without the University of Redlands. I have been able to expand my learning, challenge myself, grow as a leader, and gain unparalleled experiences and opportunities. The University holds a special place in my heart, and I know I will be part of the Redlands community forever.
To make a gift to support students like Abbi and her classmates during the University’s Giving Week (October 19-24), visit www.redlands.edu/givingweek. All gifts made during Giving Week will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, thanks to our generous matching challenge donors.