The current COVID lockdown has caused a change in the way many WHHS alumni are experiencing college life and starting their careers. The quarantine has pushed pause on everyone’s lives, and people are beginning to appreciate the schedule that they once hated. 

College students are trying to cope with online classes, and returning home from college early. 

Nicole Joachim, WHHS Class of 2018, is studying at Stockton University and is experiencing uneasiness in terms of the whole situation. 

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“Returning home from school under quarantine reminds me of being grounded,” Joachim states.  “My experience at school is completely different from my home environment, and I find it difficult to adapt to the circumstances due to the pandemic,” she states. 

Class of 2018 alumni Gabe Geytsman’s plans were put on hold by the nationwide quarantine.

“Quarantine life feels like purgatory,” said Geytsman.  “I was talking to a potential employer about a job for the summer, but that’s become impossible to plan. I had a roommate lined up to replace my current, departing roommate in my apartment and now that lease isn’t going to be signed.”  Geytsman is studying at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  He graduated Hills in 2018.

Although the overall feeling of being quarantined is negative, many alumni are trying to stay positive. WHHS class of 2018 alum Sam Segreto is an English major at The College of New Jersey and is trying to look on the bright side of the situation. 

“I’m trying to stay positive and look at the bright side of things so I’ve enjoyed all of this extra time with my family, and I’m always keeping myself busy with things that make me happy, whether it be music, film, books, etc.,” Segreto says.  “I feel like now, more than ever, we’re all starting to find an appreciation for the arts (if we haven’t already) and that’s beautiful in itself,”  says Segreto. 

Alumni expressed the struggles with making the adjustment to being at home to finish out their college year.

“Being home from school and having to stay inside makes me feel very unproductive because I’m used to always being busy and out of the house,” says Jason Sanfilippo, Class of 2019, who attends Misericordia University .

Louis D’Agati, a freshman at TCNJ, says adjustments must be made.  “At school, I had a definite schedule and routine between class, the library, the gym, eating, and everything in between. It was all up to me. Now, I have to adjust to a completely new environment all over again,” he adds.

“It’s so disappointing,” says Brandon Judge, Class of 2017 Alumni, attending Lehigh University. “College has been an awesome time for me, I’ve really grown as a person and I’ve had a ton of fun. The fact that we’re missing half a semester of the college experience that we can’t get back is such a shame,” said Judge, a former senior editor of The Patriot Press.   Judge adds that he would feel heartbroken if this were his senior year.  

Although Judge expressed disappointment, he said he is thankful that his family has managed to stay healthy through it all.  

Jake Goldberg, also a former senior editor, expressed concern for those studying abroad during the pandemic. 

“I feel for those who were studying abroad and for seniors. Those are certainly the highlights of college life and ones that can never be brought back,” says Goldberg, who attends Wakeforest University .

“I think there is the overall consensus that people’s motivations academically have significantly been reduced with online classes. It’s a bit tricky because some professors are assigning more than they usually would and others are not putting any effort into having anything resembling a legitimate class” says Goldberg.

For Columbia University Senior Sam Applebaum, who graduated from Hills in 2016 says he’s learned to live with the fact that he will be foregoing graduation from college. “Far more unceremonious was leaving college for spring break, and later finding out I wouldn’t return to say goodbyes to my college friends,” Applebaum stated.

The soon-t0-be college graduate has secured a job already, so employment is not his top concern.  Family, however, is on his mind.

“I think about my grandmother living alone in Florida. I can’t travel there to be with her and she can’t come here,” Applebaum notes. “I think about my family members working for small businesses that are fighting to survive the economy of this crisis. Although my full-time job hasn’t been affected, my friends have been laid off across all industries. It’s a scary time to be a new college graduate, taking our first steps into a “real world” that is broken and upside down,” adds Applebaum.

Another college senior is actively giving back to the community while coping with the abrupt end to her college years.

Elika Moallem, who graduated Hills in 2016 and is studying biology at William Paterson University, is trying to help the community through tough times. 

“I recently became the social media producer for an organization called Real Heroes Need Masks,” Moallem said. “By posting on their Instagram page, I am helping them raise awareness and ask for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations to distribute to small hospitals and clinics that don’t have the resources,” she states.