October 15, 2020
Sun Devils from all different campuses and parts of the world have spent the last two months adjusting to the new reality of a partially or fully virtual fall semester.
Some students have made the decision to stay home for the semester, in Arizona or out of state, and attend classes virtually through Zoom. Others have decided to take a full semester of iCourses only. Many have decided to do a mix of in-person and virtual classes in what is known as ASU Sync.
With these different class options comes a different academic and social experience this semester. Making new friends and getting involved while staying safe and minimizing physical contact is something that Sun Devils are being pushed to get creative about.
Sophomore Navid Premji has decided to use the ASU Sync class option this semester and has made it his mission to help get others involved.
“I didn't go fully online because I have a position on campus, so I thought that I might as well take the ASU Sync option,” Premji said.
Premji, who is studying supply chain management and came from Texas, is a peer mentor in the Casa De Oro first-year residence hall on ASU’s West campus.
According to Premji, he currently only has one class that offers an in-person option, but he has been taking advantage of it however he can. His biggest concern for the semester is staying on top of his work and attending his virtual classes
“I feel like it's so easy for students in general to say ‘I'll just watch it over the cloud,’ but it’s not the same thing,” Premji said.
As a peer mentor, Premji not only has these concerns for himself, but for his first-year residents as well.
“I think a lot of students are worried about getting engaged on campus and joining clubs,” Premji said.
For this reason, Premji is working extra hard to make sure that his residents are being successful in their first semester of college and getting involved.
“It's my job to work with freshmen right now. What I’m looking forward to is connecting them in any way I can, whether it be Zoom calls or just getting them to know each other,” Premji said. “I’m also looking forward to new ways to improvise and brainstorm how I can get them involved. I also want to get more engaged on campus and get other students engaged on campus, in whatever fashion I can in this online era.”
While Premji might not be able to attend his classes in an ideal manner, he is making the most of his position as a mentor. For first-year students just starting out, his advice is to still show up, even if it’s virtually.
“There still are clubs on campus that are having meetings and having events,” Premji said. “That’s your way to get your foot in the water, even if those online events don’t look that appealing. Next semester if we go back in person, you’ll already have those connections so when you meet them in person, it'll be a lot easier.”
Another Sun Devil making the most of this unique semester is sophomore Fernanda Ruiz Martinez. Ruiz Martinez is currently studying journalism and mass communications with a minor in transborder, Latina/o and Chicana/o studies.
Ruiz Martinez has decided to attend her classes completely virtually this semester.
“After the first week of in-person classes, I decided to take all my classes online temporarily,” Ruiz Martinez said. “I didn’t feel comfortable. The setting was odd and I felt I’d be more productive at home where I feel safe.”
Still, Ruiz Martinez says that she has plans to try in-person classes again once she feels safer.
Nonetheless, Ruiz Martinez decided to move into campus housing in Roosevelt Point at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Ruiz Martinez is also working hard to stay involved on campus and help other students through this new semester.
“I know some students are going to be online all the time, and I hope that they feel like we can interact with each other even if they’re not here in person,” Ruiz Martinez said. “In every class, you always have someone to talk to so I want to create that energy. If I see a student who is not in person here, is there something I can help them with? I know it’s very difficult to do it from home.”
Ruiz Martinez is staying connected and helping others through her roles in various organizations on campus. Ruiz Martinez represents the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism as a senator in the Undergraduate Student Government on the Downtown campus.
In addition to this, Ruiz Martinez is a member of the Walter Cronkite College Council as well as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She also helped out on the planning committee for Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month as well as the new Civic Engagement Coalition.
Ruiz Martinez has spent much of her free time attending various virtual events and welcoming new students to ASU and the Cronkite school.
“[It's important] to help each other during these trying times,” Ruiz Martinez said. “I hope that we can create a positive environment while following the CDC guidelines.”