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Class of 2020 Success Stories: Lone BGSU senior living on campus happy to have support to finish her semester

Hayley Landers, a gerontology major, one of about 75 students who remain on campus

By Andrew Addessi

Packing up to resume classes from home was a tough process for many Bowling Green State University students.

However, it was not an option for everyone.

Hayley Landers, a BGSU senior majoring in gerontology in the College of Health and Human Services, is graduating in May after finishing out her semester as one of the few students still living on the Bowling Green campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Life on campus is very different now with so few people present,” Landers said. “It is all a matter of adapting to the online programming that the campus is offering to still feel a connection to the BGSU community.”

BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers congratulated Landers for being the only senior still living on campus in this tweet and a surprise delivery from a Starship delivery robot.

With about 75 students unable to return home, whether due to personal issues or travel bans, Residence Life was not going to be able to operate in its typical fashion. After announcing that the residence halls were closing, BGSU relocated the on-campus students to Centennial Hall with each person having their own suite and personal bathroom to promote the greatest amount of social distancing.

“The ability for students to live on campus is something we had to seriously look at to make sure we kept the community safe,” said Josh Maxwell, associate director for housing and administration.

Landers stayed on campus because of her internship with the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. While it was initially put on hold for the virus, she was still determined to follow through with it. Unfortunately, the internship was eventually canceled due to safety concerns.

“I was originally required to have a set number of hours, which, unfortunately, I couldn't meet due to the pandemic closures,” she said. “The gerontology program gave us alternative assignments. I found that it was very important that I kept clear lines of communication with the internship site as well as my faculty advisor from BGSU about the alternative assignments in order to stay on track for graduation.”

On top of her internship, she had to find ways to adapt to online learning on the fly. She came across many challenges, namely the lack of structure that comes with living, working, relaxing and focusing all in the same space.

“Because I did not have to physically go anywhere, nothing was ‘set,’” Landers said. “I overcame this by trying to keep my daily routine as close to normal as possible. I made sure that I was still calling and video chatting with friends, family, advisors, staff and faculty members who are a part of my support system. Being able to stay in touch with these individuals who I was so used to seeing all the time helped things feel a little bit more normal during such a hard time.”

Landers and other graduating students are thankful for the ability to remain in campus to finish their final year. As the year comes to a close, people have started wondering how the fall semester will be affected.

“As we learn more about the virus — and we do learn more every day — when it comes to bringing folks back on campus, it’s not just a Residence Life question, it’s an entire campus question,” Maxwell said. “Right now, we hope to be open in the fall, so it’s a matter of looking at what we need to do, that we do it right and explore every possible option to do that.”

Even in trying times, BGSU has gone to every length to support its students and staff, accommodating for a number of circumstances. As for Landers, she plans to continue her education in the fall at the University of Pittsburgh to get her master’s degree.in higher education and student affairs.

“It is sad knowing that my final year ended like this,” she said. “But I have no doubt that I will be back to visit and I will have the opportunity to see all of my friends and those who have impacted my journey at BGSU again.”