Interviewer: Kimberly Flores
Interviewee: Sierra Costa
June 19, 2020
I decided to interview my good friend Sierra Costa for this topic. Sierra is an alumna of Suffolk University. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted her senior year in a multitude of ways. One of the most significant impacts was the lack of a traditional graduation ceremony– she was unable to cross the stage to receive her diploma. Throughout the interview, I also asked her what other ways COVID-19 has impacted her life besides her last year of college.
What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about COVID-19?
“I remember being in class and we got an email saying we were going online after spring break. My classmates and I kind of made fun of us going online because we really weren’t scared at that point, we honestly thought it wasn’t very serious. A teacher of mine kept saying how bad it was going to get and to take Uber’s instead of taking the train. The students just kept making fun of her saying she was taking it too far. We all denied her, but that’s when everything started to get worse”
What were your initial thoughts when you heard that Suffolk University was going to move to remote learning after spring break?
“I was shocked and once I got back from my spring break trip to Florida, I really was upset. I always say how much school is just such a burden, but it was still important and it was part of my everyday routine. Knowing I could not finish my senior year without any absolute closure was very upsetting. Graduating from Suffolk University is a big thing for me. We have been in school since we were five. I kept telling myself for my last semester how everything was ending and it was time to go into the real world. I really didn’t have any time to prepare myself for what was happening in the world. It is such a big transition and I had to mentally prepare myself but I couldn’t do that because everything was just taken from me so quick”
Were you worried about how COVID-19 was going to affect you? What about your family?
“I was worried when they moved classes to remote learning but once I found out my job was shutting down I got even more worried. For me, I was definitely more worried financially than actually getting sick. I live in an apartment in East Boston and I would rely on myself to pay for food, bills, etc. I was also very worried about my mental health. The virus first started to get here in Massachusetts around February. It was during the wintertime, where it was cold and it would get very dark very early. I didn’t want to go out alone because my roommates all went back home and I was alone. I was planning on staying in Boston but after my roommates left, it was best for me to go back home and be with my family.”
“Yes because my mom is an essential worker. She works at a grocery store but she learned how to stay safe by always wearing a mask, wearing gloves, and washing your hands frequently. Now that cases are slowly going down, I’m a little less worried. My grandparent is extremely healthy and she also follows guidelines.”
What was your initial thought when you heard Suffolk University’s 2020 Commencement will be held next year, a day before 2021’s Commencement?
“My first thought was I am not going, I almost felt insulted in a way and I honestly just wanted them to cancel it. Just imagine the students who are from overseas. They would have to come back to Boston, after almost a year after receiving your diploma, and students are probably already starting working in the industry. The excitement for me would be over and my roommates are a year younger than me and it just felt right to graduate first since I was the oldest one, but it still doesn’t seem fair. In the email they sent out, they didn’t seem very apologetic. They said, ‘We are happy to announce…’ but what they should have said instead is, ‘We are extremely sorry to do this instead’ I was sad and upset and could not believe it. It is something we all look forward to walking that stage”
Did COVID-19 affect your job?
“Yes, my job closed. After I came back from spring break, I went to work and my boss was upset because he knew he had to close down soon. We were supposed to return to work mid-April but it is currently mid-June and even though some restaurants were open in Boston, ours was still closed.”
Have you traveled through this pandemic?
“Yes, I traveled to Florida around mid-March and once I got to Logan airport it felt like a zombie apocalypse. I never have gotten through security so quickly. It honestly probably took around 3 minutes. All the TSA workers seemed to be not as strict as usual because no one was flying during this time. Once I got on the plane, I still kept my mask on, I had gloves, and I disinfected my seat with a Clorox wipe. The rows in front of me and behind me were pretty empty and it was around 20 people in the plane. This was all so new to me and different.”
What is something you miss the most doing?
“I am such a social person, I loved going out and hanging out with people. I also loved attending big gatherings. I honestly miss going to work and I feel like we took everything for granted once the virus started to hit closer to home. I miss not being scared to run out for errands and miss not being paranoid about having to wear a mask and gloves. I just miss everything in general!”
Any tips on how you stay positive throughout this pandemic?
“I enjoyed doing new things such as being outdoors. It makes me not feel so trapped and I enjoyed doing things I didn’t have time to do before. I used to paint all the time and when I went to college I never painted because I was just so busy and now I have been painting every day! Also, I read books and I taught myself how to skateboard. Learning new things and going back to things I did before is the way I try to stay positive. I remind myself that this isn’t permanent. Eventually, things will be better even if they aren’t better right now. I was so busy during the school year– I had two jobs and two internships with school. I remind myself that this is a break for me even though it isn’t a good one, but it was a much-needed one for me because of how hard I worked.”
Other Interviews Conducted by the Team at Relay:
- How COVID-19 Affected My Dental Business
- Being an Anesthesiologist during COVID-19
- How I Deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic with my Kids, ages 5 and 6
- How COVID-19 is Currently Affecting my Second Co-op – Finance
- How COVID-19 Affected my Second Year of Co-op – Pharmaceuticals
Student Narratives from the Team at Relay:
- A Wild Freshman Year in College
- Reflecting on the Spring 2020 Semester – My Reaction to the Campus Closure
- How COVID-19 Affected My Junior Year in College
- Thoughts on Heading into Junior Year of High School
- Transferring and Dealing with COVID-19
- Treasuring the Moments, Losing Senior Year & Looking Forward