Durham, NH — On Mar. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. Store shelves were stripped of bare necessities by worried customers, local businesses had to shut down their operation, and students were sent home by universities; all these happened in hopes of combating the spread of this deadly virus.  

It has been a year since then, and although COVID-19 is still categorized as a global pandemic, many people are fitting into the new normal. Wearing a face mask, practicing social distances, and sanitizing could be considered as a daily routine instead of a step of prevention.  

On March 15, 2021, President James Dean of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) sent out an email with a video titled “#UNHTogether, One Year Later” attached in it to the UNH community. In the video, Dean was joined by Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig to commemorate UNH’s effort in combating COVID-19 for the past year.  

Dean started the video by stating how proud he was of the UNH community for persevering during these hard times. He noted that the efforts that were given by students and faculty members are “remarkable, even daunting.”  

Selig continued to state the achievements by the Durham community in spite of COVID-19 such as embracing cutting-edge public health strategies, coordinate local efforts, and hosted the New Hampshire House of Representatives on several occasions.  

As the vaccines for COVID-19 are slowly rolling out, Selig urged the Durham community to stay vigilant. He added, “The end may be in sight, but unfortunately, it’s not over.”  

One of the main purposes of the video was to gather virtually to remember the lives that were lost due to COVID-19, and to honor and appreciate the UNH community, as said by Dean. The video ended with the UNH Carillon being played from Thompson Hall as a symbol of respect to the ones who have been suffering during these hard times.  

Junior communications major Carson Webb stated that the biggest challenge since the UNH shut down a year ago was staying motivated. “I have just been trying to self-motivate myself to keep up with the schoolwork since most of my classes are online,” he said.  

However, Webb believes that UNH has “done a good job” in adapting to changes and keeping the school open – especially with the testing program that UNH introduced last semester. He added, “No other school is testing their students twice a week. My sister goes to Quinnipiac University and they pick random students for their weekly testing.” Although not all classes are in-person, Webb justified his excitement about being able to stay on-campus by saying, “At least we (students) still get to be together.”  

When asked about his expectations for the coming fall semester, the New Hampshire native said that it all depends on how fast students will be able to get the vaccine. “The faster the vaccines are made available to all, the more likely that UNH will get back to being normal.”  

As a junior, Webb shares his empathy for first-year students and seniors. “I feel really bad for this year and last year’s seniors. I know a lot of people that are searching for a job and no one is hiring; it is definitely not the college end you’d expect,” he said.  But Webb is optimistic that current first-year students who enrolled at UNH last fall will get the college experience that they deserve once the situation is back to normal. “I feel like the freshmen don’t really know what college life is,” he added.  

Photo courtesy of Danielle Forte//TNH Staff.