In January, if you asked students about this year’s summer plans, many would excitedly share about their research projects, internships, global travel, and perhaps extra time with friends and family. Yet, at the start of a year filled with possibilities and plans, it seems there was one prospect that no one had slated for spring and summer.
A sweeping spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, swiftly upended schedules across campus, alongside classrooms, workspaces, and labs around the country. On March 16, the University System of Georgia announced that all courses across the state’s 26 institutions would move to online instruction for the remainder of spring semester, a decision soon followed by another to conduct May and summer courses in distance format.
As students scrambled home, our definition of “normal” changed. To protect themselves and others from spreading Coronavirus, students around the globe rapidly adjusted to remote learning, wearing masks on infrequent ventures outside the home, and limiting contact with others.
With spring semester in the rear view and hot summer days rolling in, students have again adjusted to a new, unprecedented season of life. Some are working remote internships or have enrolled in online courses, and others are simply making the most of a few months of unstructured days and warm temperatures. We are all adjusting to the unexpected circumstances and reality of living through a global pandemic.
This month, the College of Sciences is checking in to see what our community members are up to and how they’re doing. In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, we want to know: what does summertime look like?
Sophia Martin, a fourth-year psychology major who is minoring in Health & Medical Sciences, is using extra time this summer as an opportunity to get creative. Recently, Martin gained inspiration from a Pinterest do-it-yourself tutorial on how to make a table from an old tire and jute. The tutorial inspired Martin to then build a tire chair from an old tire swing, cardboard, and cloth.
"I’m always looking for new projects but work on a tight budget, so even though I get inspiration on a craft, it can take months for me to find the right materials,” explains Martin. She often chooses projects that will make use of materials that she already has around the house that would otherwise be thrown away. She shares that, for this project, “One thing I’m most proud of, though, is that the total cost of materials was $13, even though you can buy a similar piece of tire furniture on Etsy for over $100.”
For the tire swing project, Martin also decided to saw, clean, and sand everything by hand, even though she has access to power tools. “It personally feels a lot more rewarding and this project was especially cool to watch come together, because there were so many different components,” says Martin.
Between creative projects and her work, Martin’s days are brimming with activity. This summer, she is working on research project with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, sponsored by a President's Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA) salary. And as president of the Georgia Tech Mental Health Student Coalition, Martin works on various projects to promote student mental health.
Once Martin finishes work each day, she shares that she logs off the internet and takes time for herself. An avid baker, she’s mastered making lemon meringue pies, croissants, chocolate peanut butter truffles, and homemade pizzas. Some days, she plays beach volleyball with a dedicated group of six friends.
For Martin, setting intentional goals for her day and week helps her manage time and avoid unnecessary stress. “I try to work out, or go for a walk in the morning to wake up … I try to stay busy, and that means different things for different weeks,” says Martin. “Some weeks are really work heavy, and other weeks I’m making pies and cookies every day because I’ve got the time.”
She’s also already planning where projects will fit when it’s safe for students to return to campus. “Right now, my tire chair is a decorative addition to my room at home, but I fully intend on bringing it back to Tech with me, as additional storage space and a cute accent to the living room.”
Martin sends her well-wishes to the entire Georgia Tech community: “Hope everyone is staying safe, smart, and healthy — remember to take time for yourself and be creative!”