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College in the time of COVID-19: engineering student Dominic Durant

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Returning from a military deployment overseas means adjusting to a new routine. But a soldier faced many challenges that no one could have expected when he started making his dreams come true when he got home.

Dominic Durant, an army reservist was deployed in 2018.

“I was told my unit was going to be stationed in Kuwait and then moved to Iraq for a year. What we did, our unit was basically construction. So we went there and we were doing constructions in Iraq and Kuwait throughout the period 2018, 2019, ”Durant explained.

He had great aspirations to resume his civilian life. Durant returned home in September 2019 and started working as a process server. He soon began attending the University of Alabama at Huntsville in hopes of becoming an engineer. He became a full-time UAH student in the spring semester of 2020, as the world began to face a new frontier in the face of a global pandemic.

Classrooms went through cameras. The school was not the same.

“This structure where I could physically go to a teacher, or tutor, or even just peers in your own class to have peer study sessions was something I really relied on, especially because a lot of ‘between you have similar classes, so they liked to know about your situation that a tutor could do, ”Durant said.

But it was not possible. The full-time engineering student did his best to adapt.

“A lot of people have started Discord channels, group chats, all kinds of things to try to stay connected, but in the end, it’s not the same. You can’t really solve a math problem on Discord. Durant explained,

It was not the only challenge.

“I think the most affected aspect was motivation. Many of us who have never taken an online course have had a hard time wanting to participate when there is only one camera that you don’t necessarily have to turn on, ”he said. declared. “It’s almost like watching YouTube videos, you know. It’s something that you opt out of that you can’t really do if you’re in person.

After a few semesters, he decided it was time to take a break.

“Both with coming out of that military deployment, being reintroduced into a new environment, and then having to adjust to isolation and everything else… They say you’re supposed to be a few months after your back to reorient you in society that I didn’t really end up doing, ”Durant said.

Durant says the pandemic has made him less social. He finds himself staying at home more than before. But he also thinks he’s changed for the better. He has developed greater autonomy.

“A lot of what I came to in the spring wanted to rely heavily on other people to help me get to where I needed to be and with COVID I realized you never really know what it is. ‘future, but you have to be prepared to do what you need to do to be successful, and you have to be honest with yourself about your abilities, what you can and cannot do, ”he said. declared.

He also had time to reflect and reassess the path he chose. “There are a lot of options that I’m looking at, but it gave me a kind of meditation period during this isolation to think about where I want to be in 5 years and how I want to get there,” he said. he declares. .

Durant plans to continue his studies in the spring semester of 2022.


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