Pursuing Education Amid Covid-19

Courtesy of St. John Vianney School


(Update on October 14, 2020)


It is a big relief to complete the Spring Semester of 2020 amid the menacing of Covid-19. I am grateful to my Alma Mater, the University of Hawai’i (UH) system particularly, the Kapiolani Community College and UH West Oahu for the two associate degrees: one in science (accounting), and another in arts (liberal arts), for which I will be awarded this August; while my bachelor is upcoming next Spring, sometime in May. Sadly, due to Corona virus, we, the graduates, did not have any ceremony to attend, no celebration to party and be merry due to stay-home orders.  However, despite all the impacts of pandemic in our lives, modesty aside, I refuse to be considered as a victim for the very reason that whatever I earned in academia cannot be taken away by Covid-19.

Thus, with all honesty, I do not feel bad missing the graduation ceremony at all. Simply because, I am confident of owning the knowledge and wisdom I learned and earned in pursuing my undergraduate degrees. Although my heart goes to our youngsters, who worked so hard to attain education, and then they miss marching on stage being in caps and gowns, and tassels too. For there is a great sense of fulfillment in every graduation; Regardless of the level education, it is a milestone in one’s life worthy of celebration with our loved ones, families, and friends.

Moreover, marching on stage is monumental; because it marks an achievement. It takes a lot of work to pursue a degree. Being in college requires more than thousands worth of student loan. It likewise demands hard work, perseverance, determination and/or strong will, tenacity and faith. 

Personally, to be in college in my forties is very challenging. Every subject or course is a mountain to climb. For example, in College Algebra, which I took two courses (one is a required lab) this last Fall of 2019; For both courses, I must write every concept extensively. Often, I cannot afford to look at my hands and fingers because they look like ginger to me already. Seriously, I must be in class three days in a week and spend four-hundred-eighty (480) hours in classroom just for those courses alone. Note that I also took at that time two Geology courses (with required lab too), and Audit as well. So, from Monday to Friday, I was at UH West Oahu (as early as 8:00 in the morning and as late as 7:30 at night). Going back to algebra, I must watch my professor’s videos every week—repeatedly–for at least eighteen (18) weeks. Likewise, I must turn in assignments for every chapter on time each week (one in paper and another in MyMath Lab). Last, but not least, I must earn at least B in four (4) exams (no calculator was allowed except in the final exam) followed by doing four (4) extra credits exercises to secure a decent grade. Because if I earned B in one, I also earned only B for the other. I struggled really hard with law school in my mind. Admittedly, math was tough, and the work was brutal.  But with perseverance and faith, thank goodness! I earned what I aimed.

A moot class room in William Richardson School of Law

In our Audit class, we also have a lab on Pearson, where we worked on a weekly assignment online. And because, there was an ethics component to it, we must write in the language of business ethics. We must be proficient (at least) with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), various ethical frameworks, all concepts, and principles in intermediate accounting, along with business law. I must read and reread each chapter and worked on end-of-chapter exercises to survive the class decently. 

In our History of Economics class, we must know beyond the rudimentary of economics, we must study great economists, such as Adam Smith (the father of economics), Karl Max, John Maynard Keynes, and many more others, along with their scientific theories. And in class, we have essay exams in which we must write in strict academic standards live, and we were timed.

Most importantly, we must be present and engaged in every class and in every subject because attendance is graded. I believe that alone speaks of our commitment to learning. Also, it speaks of our determination, our will to achieve our dreams. One of my favorite writing professors once say, “Aina, you have to come to class every day, not unless you are dying.” quite a tough love—but still it is love, so I am thankful for the wisdom and of course, my professor.

To end, Covid-19’s impacts in our lives are pervasive and unprecedented. In this Spring 2020, amongst the academic community, we, students are forced to study through distant learning. I took three (3) upper courses of Financial Management, Statistics, and Business Intelligence. Challenged by anxiety caused by the pandemic and the given demands of full-time employment, I barely survived. But amid it all, I am not bitter considering the lessons we learned (e.g. What matters, is not the letter grade but our perseverance to achieve something great. Likewise, we learned that we are all unprepared for the contagion. Responsible parties fell short in addressing the crisis). To my fellow graduates of 2020, missing the ceremony is to ensure everyone’s safety. By taking our courses online; by us following stay-home-orders and social distancing, we paid our fair shares in dealing with the crisis. Lastly, know that what we learned and earned cannot be taken away by the pandemic. For along the knowledge and wisdom, we also attained the very invaluable true grit. Let none hinder us from achieving more. “Kulia I ka nu’u,” says my Alma Mater, which means strive for the highest. Because by striving for knowledge and doing things meaningfully such as pursuing college regardless of our individual challenges and especially during a crisis, we create and/or sustain an educated society.

James and Abigail Campbell Library, University of Hawai’i West Oahu

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