Harding at a distance: Drawing you back

Coronavirus has thrown a big monkey wrench in everyone’s plans. The loss of the last two months of her senior year at Har­ding is very disappointing for my daughter Hannah, and there is nothing my wife and I can do about it. Our sympathy for her loss is profound. We are all adjusting to a new normal. 

As a family physician, I am learning telehealth strategies to meet patients’ needs. Our daughter is finishing her degree from Har­ding and our other two children are learning remotely, as well. E-learning takes place all over the house, video chatting with family and friends is nearly constant, and even church is remote. Our poor router is pushed to its limits, I am sure.  

Being nine hours away from Harding has conditioned us to value our time together and not take it for granted. We also experienced the separation on a greater scale when our daughter went to Harding University Latin America. There is a certain amount of jealousy regarding our time with her. Right now we are loving having her at home! Both of her grandfathers are at high risk due to health issues, so the call to adhere to prevention strategies is especially meaningful at our house. However, there is a bittersweetness to this whole COVID-19 thing.

Being apart from her fiance and other close friends is not ideal, but they are coping. She moved out of her apartment the second weekend in April. There was no celebration or hugging and crying together with her roommates of three and four years and her many classmates and club sisters. There was no four-part harmony in the Benson Auditorium or post-graduation shake at Frozen D’s as in years past. The thing that makes Har­ding so special — camaraderie — is the thing that is being altered so drastically. 

Fortunately, Harding has a way of drawing you back. My wife and I were away for several years after graduation. Medical school and “life” took us away from Searcy, but since our daughter has been a student, the familiar warmth of the campus (though significantly different than 1995) immediately welcomed us back. I suspect each of the 2020 graduates will experience a sense of unfinished business due to COVID-19 forced changes. Thankfully, I know they will each be welcomed back in future visits to campus, as we have been. For our family, our youngest son plans to be a freshman in 2021, so we look forward to many more trips to Harding in the future.

Andy (’94) and Andrea Porter Chunn (’95), Loveland, Ohio, April 14

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