My COVID-19 experience is quite different compared to that of my friends and family. I started college at Harding in the fall of 2016. I was accepted into the Harding College of Pharmacy in the fall of 2018 and began coursework this past August. I chose to spend my senior year at Harding pursuing my first year of a doctoral program — a very unique situation! For the most part, my life remained normal. I was still active in my social club, Ju Go Ju, attended semiformal, and studied on campus at Starbucks with my friends.
I knew the coronavirus was bad as soon as the HUF Spring 2020 group was sent home. I spent spring 2018 in Florence and couldn’t believe their experience had been taken in the blink of an eye. I went on with life as normal and didn’t think much of the COVID-19 threat.
As my friends were in their last few months of college, we spent our senior spring break at Blue Mountain Beach in Santa Rosa, Florida. We had the trip planned for months. However, everything changed for me on March 12. My friends and I were sitting on the beach when we received an email from Dr. McLarty that school would be held online indefinitely. Reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
Since I was in pharmacy school, my lasts of college weren’t really over. Technically they were, but since I had 3 ½ years of school ahead of me, I wasn’t in the same position as my friends. I wasn’t in search of a job or an apartment to live in like all of my 14 friends on the trip with me. They were devastated. Wedding showers, social club formals and our last Spring Sing were taken from us. It was a hard reality to face. We were forced to say our goodbyes and depart forever without a graduation to celebrate or senior tea (a Ju Go Ju tradition) to commemorate our four years in the social club that gave so much to us. It was very sad and surreal.
As we parted ways and began our new normals at home, my normal didn’t really change. As a pharmacy intern at Walgreens in Searcy, I went on with life as normal, working long hours in the pharmacy with the fear of contracting COVID-19 through each person I encountered. I have actually been working almost full time since COVID-19 hit Arkansas. We have changed many policies at Walgreens, but every time I walk in the store I remain terrified of catching the virus. While everyone else gets to shelter in place safely in their own homes, I cannot. I am on the front lines of this pandemic. It is scary and it is real.
My professors, classmates and friends have been so encouraging and uplifting during this time. I am so happy that I chose Harding to continue my education to become a pharmacist. The only thing getting me through this time is my faith. God remains in control and I confide in that. A verse that I have kept close to my heart during this time is Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Hannah Jones, Pharm.D. candidate class of 2023, April 2