Though BJU President Steve Pettit’s announcement on Thursday to send students home early because of the coronavirus threat surprised much of the student body, overall students are coping by turning to the God of all comfort. Junior special education student Anna Dubberly reminds us all that “it’s very scary to know that all this is going on, but we can rest in the fact that the Lord is in control, and He’s worked everything out so perfectly all along the way.”
Understandably, students are processing a spectrum of emotions. Senior special education student Madelyn Gerard spoke for many: “I have a lot of emotions. I’m excited to go home. I’m definitely confused with everything going on. And I’m really sad.” The rapid pace of changes spun Gerard’s head. “I think how fast this is, is kind of crazy,” she said.
International students were understandably concerned. Most student visas allow for little online coursework, if they allow for any at all. Thankfully, exceptions are being made in this instance, but international students have additional concerns regarding whether to stay in the States or to return home. Some, though, can’t travel home because of international travel bans.
“When they told us that the international students can stay on campus that put some peace in all of our hearts,” said Jason Ross, a freshman biology student from Cape Town, South Africa.
Another group of students heavily impacted is the seniors. The senior party was moved up to the night of March 12 to allow the seniors another chance to spend time together as many are dealing with the sudden loss of the last weeks of the semester. Pettit attended and took a photo with the class on the stage of FMA.
Morgan Pettingill, a senior educational studies student from Michigan focusing on social services, was at the organization where she had been doing her internship when she heard the news. “It took me by surprise,” she said. “I was kind of panicked for a bit, but I called my parents. We got things worked out. And now that I know the plan, I feel a lot better, but I’m definitely disappointed because I thought I had more time.”
While some seniors—such as nursing students and teacher education students—have degree requirements keeping them on campus, some seniors have an easier transition to the online delivered classes than others. Health sciences senior Hannah Carroll has already completed her internship and labs. “This semester is a lot easier to transition out of. … Any other semester would have been a nightmare,” she said. “I don’t even want to think about it. But this semester is definitely just electives, easier stuff. So honestly it doesn’t affect me much other than I’m going to miss everyone.”
Almost every senior is lamenting the sudden conclusion to their on-campus activities and classes and eagerly awaiting the decision regarding commencement. Greenville senior Grace Johnson, who is graduating after only three years said, “I’m kind of sad. I have loved being at Bob Jones, and I really love my experience here. And I wish I could finish out my last semester here instead of having to go home. … But I still hope they have commencement. That’s all I’m here for right now. I just wish they would have commencement.”
Johnson will be attending graduate school at BJU in the fall. “I’ll be back,” she said.
For the latest updates, visit bju.edu/coronavirus