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Courtesy of Rosanne Wickman
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The new normal for freshmen’s first semester

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Long time UMKC students may have fond memories of their first semester on campus. For UMKC’s newest incoming class, a global pandemic may taint those memories.

With numerous safety restrictions, online learning and social distancing measures, freshmen are entering into an environment much different than their predecessors experienced.

Freshman Mariah Duron knew that her first semester at UMKC would be abnormal by the time she had her high school graduation at The Boulevard, a drive-in theater in Kansas City, Kansas where graduates and families were required to stay in their cars. Although it was a unique experience, it wasn’t what Duron and her fellow graduates wanted. 

“A lot of us wanted to walk properly across a stage like graduates should,” Duron said. “It’s sad to think about because later we saw other surrounding schools have a proper graduation that followed the same social distancing protocols that we did.”

Throughout the summer, Duron had hoped to be on campus and have a regular fall semester as any other college student would. However, she remains optimistic.

“It’s kind of sad because it won’t be the freshman experience I expected,” Duron said. “It should be interesting though, because I’ll still have to commute to campus for some of my classes.”

With the rise of COVID-19 cases, it was inevitable that classes would be largely online-based once again.

Freshman Adrian Salazar, also a part of Duron’s graduating class, worries about this as he’s had trouble with learning online.

“It’s hard to learn through a Zoom call,” Salazar said. “I can only focus if I’m in an environment where I know I should be learning. It’s hard for me to do that at home, where I could be sleeping or doing other things.”

As studying at home can be a struggle for many, UMKC facilities like the Miller-Nichols library will be open for students.

Although UMKC is ready to have students back on campus for the fall, students like freshman Jennifer Moreno aren’t ready to do so yet.

During the summer, Moreno attended her convocation and orientation days online. While Moreno now feels prepared, she isn’t exactly comfortable with the idea of being on campus, as she hasn’t been there since her tour in February.

“It’s the unknown of the situation that’s stressful,” Moreno said. “We never had to use a lot of the online features like we do now, and it’s definitely not the ideal situation I think we’d like to be in right now.”

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