Life During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Britney Sumayah

by Britney Sumayah, mechanical Engineering '22


The coronavirus has unfortunately and drastically affected the way in which many college students live, work, and study. When COVID-19 hit the Southeast Texas area in March of 2020, many students struggled as university courses moved online, jobs froze their hiring or revoked their offers, and current interns were forced to either work mostly from home or work virtually all together. Professors had to quickly adjust to technology in order to produce effective online learning to students, and schools had to modify their normal processes for handling important events, such as graduations, award ceremonies, and campus tours to prospective students. Lock downs quickly initiated and borders between Texas and Louisiana were shut down, preventing workers and students from traveling to their jobs and families.

When COVID-19 began to affect my area, I had just begun my internship with WestRock Company in Evadale, Texas. Work life began to change quickly as WestRock made it mandatory that all CDC guidelines be adhered to. With that face masks, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and temperature checks became mandatory. Offices and conference rooms became barren as the population of workers on site at a time was cut down to 25%, forcing most employees to work from home on a rotating schedule. Human-to-human interaction became sparser. Through all this, however, WestRock continued to reassure its people of the importance of staying safe, just as they always have strived to in the past.

I was fortunate to have been working for a company who took the virus and the training of their interns seriously. Although my schedule had been shifted to work mostly from home for some time, my mentors ensured that I was still able to have a great interning experience, connect and network with professionals, and continue learning valuable information from home. After work schedules had returned to being more normal, WestRock maintained their promise to continue adhering to all CDC guidelines in order to foster a safe and productive working and learning environment. I was still able to continue working on projects and meet with team members virtually.

Outside of work, the stress of the new virus greatly impacted my relationships. Unexpectedly being unable to visit my friends and family was a hard pill to swallow, but it was a necessary evil of me playing my part in slowing the spread of the virus. Online courses took a lot of adjustment for both students, faculty, and professors, but Lamar University staff were considerate and understanding to the circumstances and put all effort forward to maintaining their students’ quality of education.

In conclusion, the coronavirus was unable to stop me from gaining the valuable professional experience I’ve learned at WestRock, as well as from experiencing the same care and quality of education from my professors. COVID-19 has taught me that when times are tough and the unexpected is thrown at you, you will always be able to find a way to work around the issue and come out the other side successfully. The virus has also taught me the importance of having a great company and school that you trust to enforce policies to maintain the safety and well-being of their people.