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Practicing Gratitude: Eastern’s professors have shown their dedication and support in a most uplifting way.

For whatever reason, the novelty of living on campus during the pandemic has worn off. Many students were excited to return to residence living at the start of the fall semester, but now we are in the midst of our second on-campus COVID-19 semester this spring and many resident students have voiced an overwhelmingly weary response to the almost daily question, “how are you doing?”

The excitement and optimism that comes with being a new college student has worn off for many freshmen, a COVID-19 affected semester has pretty much been the norm for sophomores, juniors are growing tired and the road of academics ahead seems long and draining, and most seniors are just ready to be finished. This all time low of energy and morale has manifested itself in a rather dismal way on campus.

This semester has proven to be more challenging than most, and yet, there has been an outpouring of love, support, and understanding from many of the professors here at Eastern. I count myself fortunate to have been able to learn under such caring professors, and although things have not been easy, I am ever grateful for the ways in which my professors have shown unwavering support for their students during this incredibly difficult semester.

Where the administration has faltered in adequately assessing and supporting student’s needs, particularly regarding mental health, professors have been ever present and able to provide more individualized and personal care for us. In doing so, they have made this semester bearable. From being flexible with deadlines to lightening the reading load during the week that would have been spring break, my professors have gone above and beyond to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and our mental health.

Beyond extensions and flexibility, my professors have been great about communicating with me on a personal level. They ask me how I am and they really mean it. They are willing to meet with me, either via zoom or in person to just talk about life. I have had some truly meaningful conversations with professors, even some with whom I am not currently in class, in which I am reminded that we, both professors and students, are not machines. We are human beings who are meant to be in community with each other, who are allowed to struggle, and who are capable of so much, despite the setbacks we have faced over this past year.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own heads and think that we are facing this monster of a semester by ourselves. But in speaking with professors, I am comforted in knowing that with all their extra years of wisdom and experience, they can still relate to us on a very human level. More than anything else, I have an immense amount of gratitude for the professors under which I have had the privilege of learning.

As a senior, I have already begun reflecting on my time here at Eastern. What stands out to me more than anything is the quality of care I have received not just academically, but also personally. As challenging as this last academic year has been for me, I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Through it all, my professors have been a bright light of peace, understanding, and genuine care for their students.

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