As we start the Spring 2021 semester, we enter yet another semester living during unprecedented times. I certainly did not plan to be beginning my second semester in graduate school by attending classes entirely online, never having met any of my classmates in person. Last year at this time, COVID-19 was still a relative unknown, and I know we probably all envisioned a very different experience for our graduate school education.
Many of our classmates are in situations similar to my own, beginning this new semester living in other parts of the country and the world. At the same time, some of us are attending classes in person. However, the experience is different, colored by the unmistakable presence of masks and the need to social distance from our fellow students. Some are entering their final semester at Thunderbird, a final semester very different than the one they imagined less than two years ago when they started here. We even have brave new T-birds joining the Thunderbird family during these unprecedented times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has indubitably changed all of our lives, but it has made us stronger as T-birds. We’ve learned to adapt and be nimble, rapidly gaining the skills to use new technologies to attend classes, work in group projects, and even participate in campus social life. Das Tor meetings in the fall semester often included students living in Ghana, Peru, Spain, Uganda, and other faraway places, speaking to how we truly went beyond borders, time zones, and pandemics to become one cohesive student body even in the middle of COVID-19.
It hasn’t always been easy, and this coming semester will bring its challenges as well, whether they be difficult coursework, technology glitches, or concerns about staying healthy. However, we will overcome these challenges together as T-birds. That is what makes Thunderbird so special: we support each other, no matter the circumstances.
Aside from the support of our fellow classmates, we can be grateful knowing that we have the full support of the hardworking faculty and staff at Thunderbird, whether it be our administration, academic advisors, tireless cheerleaders at the CMC, distinguished faculty, or partners at Arizona State University. For those of us attending virtually, we can be thankful for technology that allows us to participate as if we were in the classroom aside our in-person classmates.
Finally, there is hope as we begin this new semester. The COVID-19 vaccine is coming, with injections beginning in the United States and across the world. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic. I look forward to the day when we are all able to sit down together at the pub in our new downtown headquarters. Until then, our virtual pub nights will continue to connect us across the miles (or kilometers).
Last semester, our motto was “Collaborate to Graduate.” As we begin the Spring 2021 semester, all of us at Das Tor look forward to continuing to collaborate with and support our fellow students through the good times and the bad. Best wishes for the new semester. We’ve got this, T-birds!