The pandemic that began in 2020 changed the world, college campuses and how students respond and adapt to the challenges that lockdowns, Zoom classes and hybrid classes presented. In this ongoing series, Franklin & Marshall students discuss their experiences over the last 19 months.
Name: Mateo Latorraca Rodrigo
Class Year: 2023
Major: Double major in business, organizations & society and government
What town do you call home?: Miami
Activities at F&M: Housing adviser for Roschel College House, co-president of I.M.P.A.C.T., treasurer of Volleyball Club, and a DJ.
Tell us about your last year at F&M: My last year at F&M was a difficult journey to keep up with my academics, athletics, and mental well-being. I drove from Miami (for those who don't know, it is 17 hours away from Lancaster) my fall semester to get to school in what I considered the safest way at the time. I decided to do all of my classes online while still being on campus because I just felt safer that way, although we had the option to be hybrid at times. The year consisted of a lot of self-work and self-reflection, which I'm sure many people can relate to. The last year consisted of a lot, but I was able to pull through with the help of close friends.
What did you find challenging? During this last year, I found it challenging to find time for myself and to be able to separate from all the issues that I had going on on campus and in my personal life. It was challenging trying to be my social self while also being very cautious about COVID-19.
What did you find rewarding? I found it rewarding knowing that my first batch of residents could feel at home, at least for a semester. I also found it rewarding that I could still have opportunities during the winter break in Miami and as a Hackman Scholar during the summer break.
What are you looking forward to this year? I am looking forward to being a role model as co-president of I.M.P.A.C.T. and as an HA. I am looking forward to learning from older and younger individuals’ experiences and points of view. I believe that this year will be a year I continue to grow significantly in terms of strengthening my physical, mental and emotional well-being.
What challenges do you foresee this year? I believe that with everything going on, a challenge can be not feeling burnt out. I've been on go mode since last year, and I hope that I will get through this year with the proper habits and support system.
Have you found a place on campus that is meaningful to you? A place on campus that is meaningful to me was my HA Team for the last two years because I have been given the opportunity to be a support system in a student's first year in college. This position and space have allowed me to voice concerns with the college's decisions and create solutions as a team to acclimate the house needs best. I.M.P.A.C.T. has been a space on campus that, as a POC [Person of Color], I need just to be surrounded by individuals who come from diverse backgrounds. Connecting with people from different cultures reminds me of home, which helps me feel more comfortable at a PWI [Predominantly White Institution]. Through I.M.P.A.C.T., I have been given the opportunity to step into leadership roles and be more proactive with my voice and bring light to issues that I believe must be addressed.
What advice do you have for other juniors like you? The advice that I have for other juniors is to prioritize yourself as much as possible because we will graduate in two years, and just as the first two years fly by, the following two years will come faster than we think. Enjoy it as much as possible while also prioritizing your plans and aspirations. Always be doing something that your future self would be proud of, but remember to be kind to yourself.
Any other comments you’d like to share? Advice in general to all students on campus is to try and be kind to everyone on campus, especially to those who may seem different because you don’t know what they may be going through so being kind can go a long way.
"I found it rewarding knowing that my first batch of residents could feel at home, at least for a semester. I am looking forward to being a role model as Co-President of I.M.P.A.C.T. and as an HA."
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Alone Together: Ryan Squires Found Community in Getting Involved Virtually
Alone Together: International Sophomore Joyous to Arrive on Campus
Alone Together: Kayla Mejia Found the Community She Was Searching For
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