Wyatt looks for personal growth as JMU goes online

Wyatt+poses+in+front+of+the+JMU+Dance+building%2C+she+did+a+photo+shoot+with+other+freshman+in+the+dance+program.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wyatt

Wyatt poses in front of the JMU Dance building, she did a photo shoot with other freshman in the dance program.

Although there was uncertainty as to whether or not colleges would return for the 2020 fall semester, James Madison University decided to take the risk and begin classes Aug. 26. Upon arriving on campus at JMU, Harrisonburg High School alumna Elizabeth Wyatt felt as though, at any given moment, she could have had COVID-19. 

“It made me uncomfortable to even think about going home to see my parents and stuff like that just because there’s so many cases, and the likelihood that you’ve interacted with one of the [people] is so high,” Wyatt said. 

This state of unease prompted Wyatt to get tested for COVID-19 after a couple weeks of being on campus due to the possibility of her contracting it. After attending a required preliminary meeting over Zoom and receiving her results, Wyatt tested negative and found the process, in some areas, to be organized.

“There were a lot of people that went into quarantine without a test because they interacted with people that had COVID. I wasn’t having many symptoms, but I just kind of had a feeling that I may have contracted it. I think the Health Center was doing pretty good about the way they’re handling testing even though they have an influx of tests,” Wyatt said. “I did [a] consultation and it was very nice. They were very respectful. They weren’t super stingy with the test which I appreciated.” 

As the number of students contracting the virus rose, JMU moved to online. Though closed, the university allowed some students to stay on campus until they felt safe, found alternative housing or were able to return home. Rather than staying on campus or returning home, Wyatt decided she would drop out of her dorm contract and use that money to pay for an apartment with three other roommates. 

“[The apartment is] something solid that is not going to send me home, [and I have it] for a year. That’s been good,” Wyatt said. 

Wyatt, a dance major, is grateful for being able to take dance classes in person, but she finds the new structure to be a big adjustment. JMU has allowed the dance program to continue meeting in person as long as they follow COVID-19 restrictions with each dancer in their own ten foot box.

“Dancing obviously looks very different than it ever has. Modern classes tend to do a lot of partnering and stuff like that. My modern class obviously can’t do that. The teachers can’t touch us, which sounds weird, but [in dance] they need to touch you to correct your technique,” Wyatt said. “We can’t have bars or anything. It’s a big adjustment, but I’m loving it because I haven’t danced in so long.”

Along with a new way of learning dance, Wyatt has had to adjust to a new way of learning as the rest of her classes moved online. 

“It’s kind of strange [having online classes]. I have a huge class that has like 200 kids in it, so it just feels a lot less personal between you and your professor. It’s kind of harder to learn and harder to stay on top of things just because [in] online, there’s nobody down your throat, and you do it at your own pace,” Wyatt said. “It’s hard to stay on top of things, but it’s not too much of a change for me personally. For [others] it is, but as a dance major it hasn’t been too terrible to be online.” 

Having had to adjust to a new environment and way of learning, Wyatt is staying optimistic and taking this opportunity to grow. 

“[I’m looking forward to having] personal responsibility to help myself grow in that aspect and making sure that [I’m] in charge and doing everything that I need to without any assistance,” Wyatt said. “I think it’s just kind of a college thing and also on an online thing. I just want to get better at it.”

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