EDITOR’S NOTE: Sarah Smith is a student at the University of Central Florida, majoring in Biology with ambitions of attending veterinary school at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She graduated from Viera High School in Melbourne, Fla., where she finished up her basketball journey, having played since she was 4 years old. Sarah has authored several articles on different dog species for a web-based publication and has been actively involved in civics, to include seeking office in the Pre-Vet Society at UCF. Sarah is the daughter of Shannon DeConda, founder and president of the National Alliance of Medical Auditing Specialists.

COVID-19, the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2: while there are so many different names for this pandemic, it inhabits one common denominator in everyone: worry. Whether the concern grows from your own health, family members’ health, work, school, whatever it may be, this disease has impacted virtually every single person.

I am a full-time student at the University of Central Florida (UCF), and I will be starting my senior year of my undergraduate degree program this fall. On Saturday, March 14, UCF closed its campus. In the beginning, the university switched its face-to-face classes, labs, and lectures to remote and online learning.

As conditions of the illness got worse, there was a case of COVID-19 present at UCF, and its doors were to remain closed for the rest of the semester – and this was just the start of it. The number of confirmed cases in Orange County rapidly began to increase, and that is when things really started to take a toll. I do not do well with online education, and studying is especially challenging when you are forced to do it in the same place you eat and sleep. I am planning on going to veterinary school next year, so my grades need to be at their highest so that I can be considered for admission – and with the last semester and a half, and potentially fall semester, being online, more challenges than normal are going to arise.

One of the biggest parts of college is the social aspect. By going to school, you meet so many new people, you make lifelong friends, develop study partners, and you meet people you never knew you needed. Having people to interact with, laugh with, and make memories with has a huge impact on mental health, which has a snowball effect toward educational performance. Without having different clarifications of the same topic from others that understand it, some classes and concepts tend to be even more challenging.

While being a student, I also have a job to be able to support myself with little, if any, outside help. Unfortunately, that job happens to be serving, and due to the virus, I have been out of work for almost two months. Luckily, I was eligible for unemployment, so I am still able to pay all of my bills and attend to my responsibilities.

Without having a daily routine, life has definitely become particularly challenging. Prior, I was running around so much I hardly had time to catch my breath, but I thrive off of always being busy and never having enough hours in the day. Now, my days consist of hardly ever leaving the house, and having an hour pass like a lifetime.

Maybe the world needed a break, but I think it is time to get back to work.

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