Without question, COVID-19 is having an impact on every single one of us and life is going to look different on the other side. One very sad reality that has hit the IWRC during this pandemic is that we won’t see Abby Palmer around the office anymore.
Abby has been a student intern with us since her very first semester at UNI, believe it or not, she actually has more seniority than three of our full time staff members. She has become an integral part of our team and the idea of not seeing her around the office when we come back is hard to fathom.
The full story is that Abby has accepted an incredible summer internship opportunity that extends into next school year, so she was going to be finishing her time at the IWRC in May...plenty of time for us to say a proper goodbye. Little did we know that Friday, March 13th (the day before Spring Break) would be the last day she’d be at her desk.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives in these times, we should step back and recognize how it’s impacting others. I’ve asked Abby a few questions so she can tell us all the story of how COVID-19 is impacting her personally, at work and with her schooling.
We at the IWRC want to extend our sincerest gratitude for everything Abby has done for us. While we know she will always stay in touch and be a part of the IWRC family forever, she will be deeply missed.
Thank you Abby and best of luck on all of your future endeavors...you will do great things!
Joe Bolick, Director
Iowa Waste Reduction Center
How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting your personal life?
Personally speaking, this pandemic has enormously affected my life. I always love going out to eat, grabbing a drink at the bars, going to UNI games, or just hanging out at other friend’s houses during my free time. But now, things have become limited. With places closing and social distancing becoming the new norm, my favorite activities are no longer possible.
Now being back in my hometown, I no longer get to see my roommates or any of my other college friends anymore. This has been very hard for me. It’s been difficult to keep up with relationships when I can’t see them anymore, especially since I tend to be terrible with texting, calling, and facetiming. So adjusting how I communicate with others has also been challenging. However during this time, I have gotten to spend a lot more quality time with my mom and my dog. I have also had time to watch all the movies and tv shows I never had time to watch before, learn how to cook some things on my own, and include more self care and exercise into my routine.
Having this pandemic happen right as spring break was going on was kind of bummer. I didn’t have plans to go anywhere, but once this rolled around, I was scared to do anything or hang out with anyone so it made my break a lot more stressful and less fun. As the break ended and we went back to having school online, the feeling of being on vacation or on a break never really went away. It’s hard because waking up you feel like you're on a break or it's the weekend, etc., but then you realize you have responsibilities and things to get done. It’s definitely hard to keep myself accountable for things during this time, but I’m finally finding a balance between it all.
How have these changes affected your work with the IWRC?
I have been working on campus at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center for 3 years now. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had during college. Not only has this been such a fun place to work, but the people here have really helped me grow in my marketing skills and encourage me to become my best self.
I’ve seen the IWRC go through a lot of transitions and changes in the years I have been here. And with COVID-19 going on, this is just another to add to the list. Working as the IWRC Marketing Intern, I fortunately didn’t have to go through a big transition when this pandemic stuff started happening. With everything I do already being online, working from home hasn’t been that hard to adjust to. Obviously the communication with other staff and students has definitely changed, but I think doing the weekly Zoom meeting check-ups, communicating through the slack app, and using email has been very helpful to keep each other updated on everything. Again, having daily work responsibilities and tasks to get done gives a sense of normalcy to my day, but it can also be hard due to the distractions of home. Just as everyone has been doing, I’ve been trying to adjust to this new normal and have been slowly finding my balance through it all.
This being my last semester working at the IWRC, it’s very saddening to leave without having a proper goodbye. It’s very bittersweet to be leaving and to do so given the current situation and not being able to see them, it’s even harder. Given that I have an internship lined up for this upcoming summer, there’s still some uncertainty of what will happen. With everything going on, it's unclear of what I will do or if I will get to have this opportunity. It’s frustrating to say the least and with the countless interviews, applications, and stress I had to go through to finally get a summer internship and it possibly not happening, is really disappointing and feels like all my hard work could be going to waste. I know that with whatever happens, I will have the support from my coworkers at the IWRC and am very grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team.
How has your life as a student been changed by the pandemic?
As a UNI student, transitioning from going to class everyday to then going online was difficult for me at first. Most of my classes changed completely in terms of the professors’ teaching style and assignment requirements. I have to say that all of mine, for the most part, were very accommodating to my learning style and had about the same amount of work involved as before. Looking at Zoom, only one of my classes has been using this during class times, and it has definitely been keeping me on a better schedule because of its consistency. Some of my other professors have provided really short lesson videos on Panopto, which are very helpful and can be done on my own time. As for the others, they have given me access to PowerPoint slides in regards to class lessons and chapters and instead of applying this information for tests or quizzes, I am responsible to apply it to bigger projects instead Overall, the dynamic is definitely different. I don’t get to communicate with my classmates as much (unless it's regarding group projects) and don’t get to enjoy the atmosphere of a classroom or being on campus anymore. I am very grateful to be acquiring an education during this time, but it’s also hard to sit down and do things on my own due to everything that’s going on around me. Only being a junior at UNI, I still have hopes that I will be able to have a great senior year filled with a great education and even greater experiences.
If there's anything I’ve learned and will take away from this experience is that I should seize every moment that life gives me. Having these limitations on life right now just goes to show how much I took for granted before. And with no assurance of when this situation will go back to normal, I think that we all should take it one day at a time, enjoy the positives of the situation, and do our part and stay home. This virus is out of our control, but the actions we take to prevent it from getting worse, aren't. We are all going through this, so let's help each other get through it together!