Like many students across the county, NC State students have lost a number of things due to COVID-19 or the CoronaVirus. The Nubian Message would like to highlight the experiences of our student body, their stories deserve to be heard. They are not alone and are only a few of many college students across the country who are grappling with the current pandemic. We recently sat down with Khadija Parker, a graduating senior majoring in psychology, to discuss her experience. 

NM: What resources or opportunities have you lost as a result of COVID-19?

KP: Well, I have lost a few job opportunities due to COVID-19.  For example, I was going to apply to work for Duke this Summer as a teaching assistant for their Duke Tip program.  It is for academically gifted students in the middle school grade span. I went to apply for one of their positions and saw a big notice at the top. “We are no longer accepting applications for the Summer of 2020”. It’s very disheartening. I also lost chances to work in offices that revolved around front desk work as many have closed their doors and rightfully so. I want to gain experience in the mental health field and it’s almost impossible when you’re not allowed within six feet of another person. It’s not as though they have a choice as well with so many people catching COVID-19. They can’t take any risks.  I’m also unsure whether or not certain places I’ve already applied to will open their doors if they accept me or not.  For example, I applied to work at a residential facility in Asheville for families with troubled youth and families in transition. It is 13 months long and is a great experience for anyone looking to gain experience with people experiencing crisis, change, transition and possible behavior problems. If we continue to be ordered to separate, they may have to refuse a lot of applications due to the fact that we would be around a bunch of other people at once. These are very uncertain times and I’m not really excited for the future or nervous. 

NM: Have you attempted to utilize any N.C. State’s resources? If so, which ones? Was it an easy process?

KP: Yes, I have utilized Pack Essentials. Thanks to Mike Giancola from Student Ombuds, I was able to get a grant of $500.00 towards my necessities. It was an easy process. I had already knew of them thanks to being in TRIO and having similar instances of need come up.

NM: Throughout all this, has NC State negatively impacted you in any way? If so, how?

KP: No, I would not say that NC State has impacted me negatively in any way at this current time. I believe that they are doing all they can given the circumstances. Also, I personally have experienced nothing short of faculty and staff willing to support me and help me graduate.

NM: How do you feel about beginning your transition to graduate school/ job search during a global pandemic and economic recession?

KP: Due to the fact that I’m looking to find a job, I feel very intimidated. Myself and thousands of other students across the nation are walking into a workplace that is trying to keep safe from COVID-19.  This means none of what they’ve done in the past will really matter.  They’re trying to take all precautions now.  It is a little intimidating and I hope that I’m not viewed a certain way because I’m a minority. There is racism that has shown its ugly face during this time. And while I’m African-American and not Asian, I empathize with certain groups being labeled a certain way because of who they are.  I will be on the lookout for how jobs respond to things like xenophobia as I have no tolerance for it.  If I don’t feel protected or seen, I probably won’t apply to certain places.  Also, I think it’s important to pay attention to how jobs are treating their current employees. As it’s probably how I’m going to be treated as well. It’s sort of a blessing to be able to see things for what they are and certain groups, organizations and companies for who they really are. I can handpick who’s demonstrated their need to appease Capitalistic ways of functioning and who actually cares that their employees are taken care of. I hope this will help me make good decisions in the future.

NM: Can you express the emotions you felt when told that you had to say goodbye to NC State three months before originally planned?

KP: To be honest, I did feel a sense of bitterness as I had plans that involved loved ones and friends. Also, I didn’t really get much of the support I was wanting or shoulder to cry on besides my counselors and other close staff and faculty. It does feel like I am being made to suck it up as “everyone is going through something”. To be honest, I am still in the process of mourning while trying to be creative about how I want to celebrate myself. After all, this isn’t about anyone else but me. I am the celebration. I am the party you can’t get in. That’s how I would encourage everyone to view it who also lost their last three months of undergrad.  You graduate as many times as you want to, but there’s something about undergrad. By now, you know yourself well. I know who I am and deep down inside, I know that I don’t necessarily need a big ceremony and applause. What I need is time and space to celebrate myself. I’ll also be turning 23 the day of graduation, so I’d find it a travesty to not turn up and blow up my social media with cap and gown pictures. Maybe even go live on one of them and just turn up. It’s definitely happening.