Safe Start Health Check
Student Hallie MacPherson, '20, shares what it’s like to graduate and enter the workforce amid a pandemic.
Written by Hallie MacPherson Photography by Hallie MacPherson, '20, in collaboration with Yosef Chaim Kalinko
Hallie MacPherson, ’20, stays comfy at home wrapped in a big warm sweater.
These days feel rhythmic but I’m all out of sorts. Our world is under pressure and our society is hurting. If you are struggling with this COVID-19 pandemic, on the frontlines treating patients, working in your community or quarantining in your house to flatten the curve, doing our part can seem overwhelming and taxing.
I’m not here to dwell on my very privileged life or my emotions. Rather, I’m here to engage in the idea and to honor the thing that we are all feeling.
Like many students, I finished my last quarter of college ... online. I’m both relieved and glum that this is how I’m wrapping up my college career, but like all things, I try to see the positive, to see the opportunity in any situation.
A sign of the times: Hallie puts on a mask as she ventures outside.
Video chatting with extended family.
I can tell you that I’ve never been this close to my family and “my people” before. My family now has twice-weekly check ins that have been bonding us in new ways and our link is becoming stronger. The fact that we are becoming more close-knit during this thing, that is something to celebrate. It took a pandemic for us to implement something we should have started years ago. A couple of months ago I knew more about the people I followed on Instagram more than what was happening in the lives of my cousins.
With twice-weekly check ins, Hallie says she feels more connected than ever to her family.
As I have spent the past 3-1/2 years on campus with my professors and friends, I was able to enter my remote classes with more ease. This relief of having a well-worn space in the Seattle U community is vital to this moment for me right now. In a way I think I’m graduating with the most moral support there may have ever been for a graduating class.
Hallie stays connected to family through FaceTime.
Going for a run.
With all the time we’ve been spending time at home and the mixed messages I am getting from every corner of the Internet, it seems as if I am not writing a book, working out every day or making my own bread I’m not taking full advantage of this time. Yet on the other hand, if it takes me a bit longer to get out of bed or I spend half the day watching my favorite show, I'm letting myself fall too far from engaging in “self-care” and it becomes “being lazy.” The line between down-time, working and studying at home is non-existent. The days I do get up early to run and take a shower right off the bat, are the ones I feel most proud of, but let me tell you, that's definitely not every day. Sometimes it’s only once a week.
Tending to a plant for her urban rooftop garden.
The at-home workspace.
Perfecting a no-bake cookie recipe.
I’m starting to enjoy the quietness instead of running around campus and Seattle (for now). During the last couple of months, I have mastered a no-bake cookie recipe, I have taken an appreciation for cleaning the house, I have tended to my plants more than normal, I have started my own urban garden on the roof and I have even resorted to my favorite craft as a kid of collaging from the recyclable paper pile.
Doing some baking at home.
The actual commencement for my 2020 graduating class will now be in October, yet I'm not counting down the days to possibly be disappointed. Tying a bow around my college career is vital for me to mentally move on and it will come, just not as we expected it. Changing educational and vocational plans for spring quarter and now, summer, which will ultimately affect the outcome of the whole year and where I end up post-grad, is really confusing. I am up for the challenge and am really grateful for my support system, especially during this time of quarantine. They give me hope. Things won’t return to normal, but they’ll turn another way, giving us opportunities and chances in life we hadn’t seen on the original directory. And that’s another thing to celebrate.
Hallie is brought to tears as she thanks her professors during a final online BFA photography project presentation. The graduating class had their senior art exhibit project moved online because of COVID-19.
(L-R) Hallie MacPherson, Nick Olds, Sofia Carregha and Ben Calvert play Cranium during an evening roommate hangout.
When I was a student in the dorms, I remember seeking out a space in the Meditation Room in the lobby of Campion Hall. That was where I could re-center and listen to who I wanted to be each day. My fond moments alone during the first few years of college were few and far between. During this time, I see an invaluable opportunity to spend one’s extra time exploring who they are, from the inside out. There is no FOMO (“fear of missing out”) because you are exactly where you need to be, right there, listening to who you want to become. My heart goes out to those still finding their spot in their college community. The journey can be a tough one, but I know it will come before you leave.
Hallie works on a pose while partaking in the online yoga class, “Yoga with Adriene.” For Hallie, it’s part of her weekly routine during COVID-19 and a way for her to re-center and quiet her mind.
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