Freshman Year in the Time of COVID-19

By Grace Brown, Correspondent 

Adapting to life at college can be a daunting task for most incoming freshmen. The amount of new experiences and opportunities can often feel overwhelming and the stress of a college workload is easy to succumb to. Add a global pandemic into the mix and the circumstances are staggering to deal with. 

However, this year’s freshman class has shown outstanding persistence and flexibility in handling their arrival on campus here at Embry-Riddle. Many clubs have also been making outstanding efforts in holding activities in a safe, socially-distanced way. This can-do attitude on campus has made it possible for freshmen to become acclimated to the college experience in a positive manner. 

Katie Sugiyama is one of these freshmen who has found a way to thrive despite the difficult hand they’ve been dealt. Sugiyama comes to Embry-Riddle from Ogden, Utah and she has chosen to major in Mechanical Engineering on the Robotics track. 

In her short time here on campus Sugiyama has gotten involved in Air Force ROTC and several clubs stemming from it. She plans to undergo candidacy for Arnold Air Society during the spring semester and is currently training with the Special Operations Pre-Candidate Program. While this set of clubs is extremely strenuous, physically and mentally, Sugiyama is dedicated to her future within all of them. She states, “they are great character development environments that encourage me to grow as an individual and thrive in stressful environments.” This growth mindset will continue to benefit Sugiyama as she progresses throughout the programs in the next few years. 

Academically, Sugiyama has her work cut out for her in her time here at Embry-Riddle. Her major of Mechanical Engineering is already proving to require a great amount of time and effort. She says, “coding is taking a lot of my time. Luckily there’s a lot of upperclassmen willing to help out with classes they’ve already been through. Overall school isn’t too overwhelming but pretty busy.” She already has a favorite spot to study, thanks to her coding class: “the library – the dual monitor setup for coding is so nice.” 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has added a damper on an otherwise successful and exciting start to college. Without hesitation, Sugiyama said that the hardest part of college so far has been “COVID – easy. It’s hard not being able to hangout with people on campus.” However, these roadblocks will not stop memories from being made here in Prescott. Sugiyama says her favorite memory so far was several weekends ago when she went stargazing with some friends, and then ended up getting Domino’s later on in the night. 

Like most freshmen, Sugiyama looks forward to the rest of her years here at Embry-Riddle. Also like most freshmen, she eagerly awaits days on campus with no COVID-19 restrictions. Until that day, however, she plans to push through and enjoy life one day at a time.