College Podcast, High School Students, Pandemic, Online Learning, Virtual Learning, COVID-19, Cranbrook Kingswood High School, Columbia University, Swarthmore College, Davidson College, University of Wisconsin Madison, Physics Department, University of California Irvine, TCNJ, Entrepreneurial, Positive Stories about Being Online"> Podcast | Episode-200-10-Positive-Online-Stories-from-Students-and-Faculty-during-the-Pandemic-e1f8nak


 Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Episode #200: 10 Positive Online Stories from Students and Faculty during the Pandemic.

Episode summary introduction: A Physics Professor hustling to move Labs online, a college senior finally learning to play chess, a high school senior who discovers her public speaking skills, student entrepreneurs and more.  10 Vignettes showcasing those, who in spite of being forced to be Online during the pandemic, had something to offer that was positive, inspiring, noteworthy or worthy of celebrating.

The Positive Stories fall into 5 different buckets.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introducing Episode #200 [0:17]
  • Adapt & Workaround [1:54]
  • Learning Something New [7:27]
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures [10:28]
  • Unexpected Benefits [17:07]
  • New Possibilities [20:57]

Our Guests:

  • Students, Faculty, AOs, Counselors featured in our Podcast over the last 2 years.

Memorable Quote: “We're all sitting at home alone, like, let's try to make a community. And so we just kind of started this chat room essentially.” Thomas Athey on his High School Senior Pandemic Summer.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Venkat Raman  0:17  [Introduction to Episode #200]

It’s hard to believe that we are on Episode Number 200!

A Huge Thank You to all the Listeners.

My goal remains the same: Bring college stories to high schoolers and their parents.

For this I have to thank all my podcast guests over the last 2 years including College Alumni, College Faculty, Admissions Officers, College Counselors, Educators.

I am humbled by their generosity in terms of their time, stories, and their ongoing encouragement and enthusiasm for this effort.

Thank You!

The podcast started with the Pandemic.

So, to commemorate this special occasion, I am featuring 10 Positive stories from all the Podcasts about Students and Faculty who in spite of being forced to be Online during the pandemic, had something to offer that was positive, inspiring, noteworthy or worthy of celebrating.

I have organized these stories into 5 buckets:

  1. Adapt & Workaround
  2. Learning Something New
  3. Entrepreneurial Ventures
  4. Unexpected Benefits
  5. New Possibilities

Now let’s go through these stories - one by one - in their own voices.


Venkat Raman  1:54 [Adapt & Workaround]

Adapt & Workaround

Venkat Raman  1:59

We have 2 stories here

Luke Neureiter of Swarthmore is studying Engg & Peace Studies. In Spring of 2020, He learned that their return to campus has been delayed indefinitely due to the spread of COVID-19. Here’s how Luke adapted and made the most of the situation.

Luke  2:21  

you know, we made the most of it. I was just at home, I did lose a little bit. You know, of course, I think everyone lost a lot of bit of the community aspect. But I managed to maintain a lot of good contact with some engineering people. So I think I was on FaceTime with some engineering friends for at least two to three hours a day, working through problem sets, that sort of thing. So that was really good. And then Swarthmore made the decision to go pass fail for all classes. So regardless of status, every class and my sophomore spring was graded as pass or fail, which I think was a really good way to kind of accommodate for all the different situations arising from the pandemic. You know, a lot of students were forced into a position where they had to take care of family members, or they had to assume in a role at home, or they weren't in a space where they could do their best studying. So it was a really equitable way to to address those differences and instant access. And then, of course, that summer, everything was remotes. And then coming back in the fall, it was decided that freshmen and sophomores would be allowed to return to campus for the first semester. And then seniors and juniors would be allowed to return to campus in the in the spring. So I elected to find a sublease or not assemblies, but an actual lease that's that fall with for other soccer players, another engineer in my in my class. So I and that was in Philadelphia. So I definitely still got a little bit of like the college experience. I definitely still had the community. So in terms of like making the most of the situation, you know, we were stuck inside the entire time. But it was still a really good way to kind of get out of our house, get out of like our homes and be away from family to kind of get that independence that I think everyone wants during college, and also still have that sort of academic and community support.

Venkat Raman  4:44

Around the same time as campuses shut down, Prof Sridhara Dasu of UW Madison had to move his Physics class online in a hurry. I asked him how they handled the lab experiments that students in normal times would conduct in person.

Here is Prof. Dasu.

Prof. Dasu  5:03

So we have these lecture demos, as we call them. So I went down there two or three days, while the university was shutdown, to, to go and videotape a whole bunch of demos. And I put them up on YouTube for my students to watch in the context of the lecture. My colleague, my colleague went and videotaped the lectures, you know, instead of a 50-minute lecture, it was like 20 minutes, 15 minutes or something like that. And we video-taped it and put it online.

And then during the actual class, what we did is for those who were able to connect, not all students can connect because they don't have internet, which is suitable or they're in different time zones. 850am, when I teach is, maybe 650 for someone, they're not going to wake up, right?

So logistical issues of whether the person is available, to connect or not, due to various reasons or not, so, we did not want to deprive one student compared to others.

So, everything was available for offline or synchronous online communication. So, it causes quite a bit of effort, and for, for the lecturer and the lecture demo person, and then all the discussion sections and labs are done in groups of 20 people or so, and that led by TAs.

And students actually get to work with experiments, play with them and take data. Now, they cannot come and play with the equipment and take the data. So, we organized the TAs and some of the lab, lab assistants to go and make videotapes of their taking data, not of people but of the instruments as the, as the settings were changed, how the readings came about, and so on. So the entire experiment was sort of videotaped. When the experiment was being done by the TAs, or the lab assistants, and we have those videotapes, we uploaded them and provided the data that was acquired to the tools so they can do the analysis and try to report and answer some questions about now.

That is not really an experience that we would like our students to have. But that's the best that we could manage.

Venkat Raman  7:27  [Learning Something New]

Learning Something New

Venkat Raman  7:32

Saumya Gupta is a senior in High School in India. Like most high schoolers, she moved home during the Pandemic. Sitting at home she learned a few things about herself.

Here is Saumya.

Saumya  7:44  

When I've come back here, there are activities, which I never thought I would do. You know, when if you had physical school, like public speaking and everything. So I got into all of that. I am part of an NGO. And I'm coordinating. I'm the media coordinator there. So I do all that stuff, which I never thought I would do. So that's something that I'm discovering myself in. And I feel I am particularly good at that. Which I which surprised me.

Venkat Raman  8:16  

Is there anything else that you're doing that wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for COVID?

Saumya  8:23  

Okay, I would say something like public speaking is for sure there. But also connectivity. I was never a person who would who was very upcoming with talks or in group chats are anything. So because everything was online and texting, which was the main mode of communication is basically voluntary. So you had to actually reach out to people to talk and to maintain relationships. So maybe that's something that that's like a sort of skill that I developed in COVID.

Venkat Raman  9:00

Ajan Subramanian was a Senior at UC Irvine when the campus shut down. With his routine scrambled, he developed a new daily routine which included chess.

Here is Ajan.

Ajan  9:12  

So like, I feel like this is the best time to try something new, something you're really interested in. Like, I I'm really bad at chess, and I might my cousin, my brother, like they're really good at chess, and I, I used to get beat by them so much to my childhood. So I thought maybe this is a good time to kind of learn those skills and just play and keep my mind occupied because I love solving puzzles. And just it's just one of those things where you're like, you're really thinking and you're forced to, to think about stuff for like, let's say 20 minutes or whatever, like however long the game is and you're not thinking about anything else. So I've been thinking a lot of games online. I've invited my friends to play online because there's a really nice website called And you can like play with your friends very easily. Just send them a link to join the game. And you're all cute. For the code like one out if you if you only want to take it to that time, you know it's sick. I really enjoy playing it because we have a routine now like every every, every, every night offends an eye for like 30 minutes at least. So we have a WhatsApp group we join and we can discuss you know games other games just movies and you play chess and stuff so I think it's I think it's I'm enjoying myself right now to be honest.

Venkat Raman  10:28  [Entrepreneurial Ventures]


Venkat Raman  10:32

Sanya Goyal is a Senior in High School in India. During the lockdown, Sanya started a company from home as part of a class project.

Here is Sanya.

SanyaG  10:44  

My school has this student company program where we create a company joint stock company and then operated for like three four months and then we have to like liquidate the company. So I was the CEO of the company doorway we made this product helps opens doors with your foot is very relevant the COVID pandemic and we actually ran the entire thing sitting at home. The it was a manufacturing companies it was a bit of a challenge that we had to coordinate multiple things but it was a very interesting way to learn about business especially in a work from home setup.

Venkat Raman  11:29

Lorena James was a rising senior at Davidson College. Her Summer Study Abroad in China canceled, Lorena pivoted to start a company to produce hair care products for Black Women living  in Asia.

Here is Lorena.

Lorena  11:46  

And then the summer after my junior year again I wanted sunny rod didn't happen to instead I stayed home and started yeah forever curly my second startup where essentially I learned how to make shampoo bought ours, different types of haircare products that don't aren't packaged with plastic as NCL was trying to focus on using zero plastic and manufacturing of my product. So yeah, that summer I did a like an incubation program or an accelerator program with University of Buffalo. So it was all virtual program. But essentially, it allowed me to incubate forever curly. And I was put in contact love with different mentors, and received love support. both Yeah, both mentorship and even financial support from the University of Buffalo for my startup.

Venkat Raman  12:36  

How did you make the products your curly products during the COVID Time? I mean, how did you get that done?

Lorena  12:44  

Yeah, so it's really just, you know, Googling different recipes, finding places online ideally to ideally websites out you know, are ethical and sustainable and all that to purchase my products in bulk from so like, you know, shea butter, coconut oil, things like that. I think the hardest thing to make is I would say like shampoo bars because it's a little bit of chemistry involved with that lie, which is somewhat dangerous. You see, I'm not wearing gloves and goggles and everything. And yeah, so that I was able to do that on LinkedIn. I feel like LinkedIn is so so important. I wish I could emphasize it more I use the ultimate timer Davidson but I think was really important when I was feeling forever curly because I was able to reach out to different mentors on LinkedIn essentially. Look up, you know, women in the haircare black hair industry and just people and I got quite a few responses back and I still want to keep in touch with people that you know, reached back out to me and I think to get provided guidance through the past year on my work in front of colleagues has been really amazing. Um, yeah, it was pretty much it I feel like my well my overall goal was forever curly was to sell and provide haircare products for black women living in Asia. Because in my own on my own personal experience living in China for almost pretty much a year. It's almost impossible to find, you know, the haircare products that I'm used to using and I do find them they're like marked up by some crazy and like you know, I'll buy abala fishers us for like four bucks in China. It's like $25 and I would refuse to pay it. So you know, it's just it's a little it's just one issue that you know people face. They know how tax repair living in mainly in different parts of Asia. But my goal was to address that issue with Forever Curly.

Venkat Raman  14:37

Thomas Athey was a senior in High School when the pandemic hit. Thomas and his friend wanted to do something useful sitting at home. Their solution: A Chat room to give Options Trading advice!

Here’s Thomas.

Thomas A  14:53  

And then during COVID, my senior, my senior my last semester of senior year of high schools COVID started. And we so we got sent home and just, you know, didn't really have anything to do. And through that we got so my friend he resold like shoes like Yeezys, and Supreme Clothing all of high school. So he had some money saved up from doing that. And he couldn't really do that because it COVID Most of his transactions, like we're in person. And we were just kind of trying to find something and do and there's just a lot going on in the stock market. With, you know, the stock market essentially crashed, and Federal Reserve and the government, you know, giving stimulus and just like a lot going on, which is like really interesting for us. And we were kind of trading and investing a little bit during this time. And having nothing to do just kind of got us deeper into that. And then we started a discord group, because we figured, you know, there's a lot of like, people that probably interest in the same thing. And just, we're all sitting at home alone, like, let's try to make a community. And so we just kind of started this chat room essentially. And it was it was started with like stocks and options trading. And we also, we had another friend who kind of introduced us to crypto. So we had kind of two sides, like it was more focused on options trading, so your options trading and then crypto. And then in options trading itself, there's just a lot, there are a lot of different strategies. One thing that kind of got us interested in this is that we saw that, you know, when when the market had bottomed out a lot of like, you had a couple months of just Green Day, you know, market going up going up, and people were trading really risky, like short term trades that were working in that time. But we knew that like once the markets, you know, cooled off, a lot of people were gonna get killed. So we were exploring just like safer ways to trade options and other ways and that so yeah, through that whole process, kind of as we continue to learn, we're building up this group chat. And then at a point we, we had like about 1000 members.

Venkat Raman 17:07  [Unexpected Benefits]

Unexpected Benefits

Venkat Raman  17:12

Amanda Simpson is an Admissions Officer at The College of New Jersey.

Here’s Amanda talking about how she saw the benefits from being virtual.

Amanda S  17:22  

Once the pandemic started, and certainly in response to the pandemic TCNJ as an institution has engaged technology, much more it has used ecology and much more. And I would say this has been felt, you know, throughout the entire campus. So in the Office of Admissions, for example. You know, it was in response to the pandemic that we started to host virtual admissions presentations and webinars, thereby making TCNJ accessible to folks beyond New Jersey in our region. I know that TCNJ hosted in still makes available virtual advising and virtual tutoring sessions for students who want in need, you know, academic, and course selection support, of course, online learning and hybrid teaching, etc. And I would say that, as we have engaged with technology more which marks has marked a transition for TCNJ. It For Me really has kind of affirmed our ability to pivot to it's certainly been an opportunity to exercise our resiliency muscles, if I could call it that. And it really showed our district of our community spirit.

Venkat Raman  18:54

Bill Hancock is the Assoc. Dean of College Counseling at Cranbrook Kingswood High School in Michigan.

Bill’s High School Students and Parents reaped some huge benefits from being virtual.

Here’s Bill.

Bill H  19:10  

Hauser up and in New England would do a you'd have two or three Deans of the day. And you know I I show up every Thursday night on Zoom and I'd listened and it was wonderful. And and so those it was an educational opportunity for me as a counselor for my families. And I think that those things were pretty exciting. And I think I don't think those are going to go away. You know, I think that those are I think people have started to see, hey, we were able to do that fairly easily, fairly inexpensively and we really had a lot of people participate. We had schools visit us this past year or two, virtually because we didn't have on campus visits for our school. So they visited with my students virtually. And we had over 130 schools come and visit this year, some of them who had never been here, some who had not been here in years. And it's because they were from very far away. And, and so I don't think that that's going to go away. 100% I know that, you know, when I was talking to a couple of my, my friends who are visiting us, virtually they would, they would say, so where are you off to next? Oh, I'm off to Baltimore next, you know, so they weren't restricted with the I have a day in Detroit, and that I had to physically have to go to another city to physically visit, they could be sitting in their house, which is where they were. And they were, you know, I was in Detroit. And then I was in Baltimore. And then I went to Houston, and then I went to LA and and I did that all in one day.

Venkat Raman  20:57  [New Possibilities]

New Possibilities

Venkat Raman  21:02

The 10th story looks ahead at new learning models that being online makes possible. Beyond the pandemic forced environments.

Here is Prof Lall of Columbia University talking about it.

Prof Lall  21:14  

What is emerging during COVID, with much more zoom, and you know, distance learning kind of things. This is going to help refine how different learners can be reached and can learn better. In the classical teaching model, I think we were stagnant. We, despite all the efforts by the people who will focus on teaching and learning, right? It was not translating into the classroom. But in these distance learning modes, what I'm seeing is that, especially when there are a lot of people in your class from our remote, they very quickly start networking and helping each other. And this learning from each other, I think, is almost a better metric of how well this is integrated. Because if someone is just lecturing, you focus on one directional assimilation, and then regurgitation. Right, but when you are interacting with others, the freedom to ask and you know, pace yourself and come back and ask is much, much higher. So as more of that is getting promoted through zoom and distance learning and people networking, that I think is a good thing. And then it's also clarifying the roles that the instructor has, which become here is an agenda for what you need to learn. And then the responsibility is perceived much more by that individual. As you know, I need to shape up and really get this and there is stress that comes with that, which is a problem. But I think how how each individual resolves that stress if the help is available, will dramatically change learning models into the future.

Venkat  23:03  [Close]

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed Episode #200.

I hope each one of you has saw some good come from being online as well.

Do check out our podcasts for rich, personal and diverse expressions of college and the possibilities.

To share your own positive online experiences please email podcast at [] with the Subject: Pandemic Online Story.

Thank you all so much for listening to this podcast today and all our previous ones.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on forward slash podcasts [].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit forward slash almamatters [] to stay connected..

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you & Keep Listening!

Summary Keywords

Podcast for High Schoolers, US Colleges, College Podcast, High School Students, Pandemic, Online Learning, Virtual Learning, COVID-19, Cranbrook Kingswood High School, Columbia University, Swarthmore College, Davidson College, University of Wisconsin Madison, Physics Department, University of California Irvine, TCNJ, Entrepreneurial, Positive Stories about Being Online

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