An Ode to 2020
by AJ Worsley ’22
Conspiracies roll around in my mind as I do in my bed. Another night where I cannot fall asleep. I turn on my fan for noise but I am not warm, so I aim it towards the ceiling. There’s something about my bedroom that has never felt so unfamiliar before. My bed. Returning to my bed after a long day of work and school was my daily dose of euphoria that I needed to take me to the next day. Or what about the days where I would go to concerts, wait in line for hours, jump around and scream my head off for a couple more hours, drive home for about another hour. After all those days, seeing my bed meant returning to a safe space. It meant comfort. It meant that I had survived another day. Now, I never want to see my bed again.
Sitting on my bed, I open Netflix and while it loads I look out my window. On one side of the street a man zooms by on his bicycle. Here and then gone. On the other side of the street, I see a woman walking her dog. She is well-kept. Leggings, running shoes, looking down at her Fitbit. She goes on walks regularly, probably even when it’s raining. Her hair is in a ponytail and it swings back and forth like a metronome as she walks pridefully by my house, unaware that I am watching her with envy. Netflix is done loading.
But in all this free time, I was able to scroll through various social media platforms, all of which reminded me to go easy on myself. “You’re only unproductive by the standards of the world we lived in two months ago,” I read on Instagram. “Keep your head up, things aren’t easy right now,” Facebook yelled at me. I quickly became a victim, hostage to my own anger because I finally had the free time I desired and wasted it rewatching television shows I had already seen. At the same time, I had become the villain, because I knew what I was doing, and I knew how it made me feel, and I made no changes to my daily schedule.
But not even a good television show could distract me from the horror. The news became the only piece of media we followed. It screamed at us: “America’s numbers are up. Will school return in the fall? Concert cancellations. Sports cancellations. Bars and clubs and convenience stores shut down. Potential cure? Not for a while! Pandemic is good for the climate crisis! Less emissions!” Better to be overinformed than ignorant, but I’d kill for the bliss.
Another sunrise had occurred, and I had missed it, waiting minutes before my class to wake up. Roll out of bed. Put my glasses on. Take my retainer out of my mouth. Open up a window so that my classmates did not think I was getting my degree from a morgue. Join the call. Pretend I knew what was going on. Leave. Repeat. Most days feel like this. The slightest sound could get stuck in my head. The dullest image would linger in my mind for far too long.
Unfortunately for man, we do not get to pick and choose when pandemics rise and kill thousands of people because the weather is getting nice and it’s becoming harder to stay indoors. Sure, on average, ten to twenty people walk by my house during a fifty-minute lecture, but I was not one of them.
After a long day of Zoom calls, I sit on the porch and watch the sky get darker by the minute. Time goes by, as it does, and soon enough stars fill the sky. I had not seen this many stars in the sky in months. One night prior I remember looking out the window and seeing no stars. But on this night, it was impossible to look at the sky and feel like you were looking at anything less than A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I mourned the things I had found and rejoiced in the things I had lost.
Featured Friar: Abby Kiernan ’21
by Kyle Burgess ’21
As the world acknowledges the one-year anniversary of a life in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have considered the past 12 months as a time for isolation and removal from group settings to ensure the safety of others. However, social-distancing measures have not prevented many members of the Providence College community from continuing to make impacts on the lives of others around them. Such is the case for Abby Kiernan ’21, who strives to make a positive impact both on the children she educates as a student teacher and on her residents as head resident assistant of Meagher Hall.
Kiernan’s path to PC began when she was in high school in Brockton, MA. As a member of her school’s choir, she became friendly with the choir director, a PC alumnus, who suggested that Friartown would be a perfect fit for her. “My freshman year, [my] choir director said to me, ‘You are definitely a future Friar,’” Kiernan explained. “As senior year approached, I decided to apply to Providence because I knew how excited Mr. Cunningham would be to write a recommendation.” One campus tour on accepted students’ day was all it took to convince Kiernan that her choir director was right all along.
In the years since her first visit to PC, Kiernan has kept herself busy between her involvement in the Office of Residence Life and student teaching. In particular, the challenges that COVID-19 restrictions have presented for resident assistants on campus has been a real learning curve. “Everything I learned last year about being an RA I had to relearn during the pandemic in a more demanding and higher leadership position as an HRA,” she said. “Not only do I support the community on my floor, but also amongst my staff and the entire Residence Life staff. Because of the many COVID-19 guidelines and policies at Providence College this year, I have had to learn many different ways to build community but also to support my residents in these difficult times.”
Despite this, Kiernan embraced her new role with open arms and feels that her student teaching background has certainly helped her adjust. “Because of my teaching background, I am usually pretty good with names and love to stop and chat in the hallway. Being there for others and filling others’ buckets are what makes my heart happy!”
Kiernan is also thankful for the opportunity to attain her dream of becoming a teacher despite the new challenging classroom environments created by the pandemic. Following in her mother’s footsteps, becoming a teacher has been Kiernan’s goal since she was young. She believes that teaching in person and virtually for students at school while studying remotely has demonstrated the importance of being resilient and being able to think on her feet. “Not only have I been dealing with being a college senior during a pandemic, but I have also been supporting a diverse group of elementary-age students with many different needs during this time. Student teaching is a time for me to learn how to take over and manage a classroom with the help of my supervisor and cooperating teacher. This experience has been unique in the fact that all of us are learning how to teach during the pandemic.”
Looking ahead beyond graduation in May, Kiernan will work as a graduate assistant while pursuing a master’s degree in urban teaching. She hopes to eventually return to her hometown to work within the Brockton public school system as a teacher and potentially work in Boston afterwards. No matter where Kiernan’s career takes her, she will always be thankful for the opportunity to change the lives of others while at PC, even from six feet away.