They say home is where the heart is, and for many of us, a piece of our hearts will always rest at Siena. Not only is Siena home because we live here, it’s home because this is where we pull all-nighters, meet our closest friends, travel abroad, overcome our fears, excel academically, laugh, cry, love, and explore.
While the Siena experience was uniquely altered this semester, many of us found joy in the small things like the colors of the leaves changing, the Siena Squirrels Instagram account, games of Among Us with friends, and informal check-ins with professors at the beginning of Zoom classes. To say the least, it’s been strange to experience the same place in such a drastically different way. While this semester was challenging, it allowed space for students and faculty alike to hold their memories of Siena a little bit closer, and inspired us all to continue setting goals in pursuit of a more “normal” future.
One thing that was consistent among almost completely new policies was one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Some days, after being cooped up on Zoom all day, there was nothing more comforting than navigating the place I have come to know like the back of my hand. During past semesters, I never really took the time to intentionally walk around campus, since my different obligations called me all over the place anyway. This semester, I jumped at every opportunity to eat or study outside, which helped me to develop a deeper appreciation for our campus and the beautiful backdrop that surrounds us.
Due to the unconventional structure of this past semester, many students had to organize alternative plans for their extracurricular activities. Some clubs met virtually, while others hosted speakers and panelists to campus via Zoom in order to ignite the educational flame on campus, and I’ve never seen it burn brighter.
During the Fall of 2020 there have been some massive headlines, many of which have had to do with the recent presidential election. This year, students and faculty alike helped the Siena Community as they registered to vote and detailed an endless amount of voting plans. This community organization was enthusiastic and crucial to the civic engagement of our campus and alumni network. There were election town halls hosted by the Political Science Department, registration form and absentee ballot dropboxes throughout campus, and a ton of student activism both on and off social media. This excitement was contagious and encouraged Saints to cast (what was for many) their first vote in a presidential election.
Outside of the classroom, the election and the pandemic combined provided a completely separate, but just as important learning opportunity for each of us. These global and political circumstances required an abundance of patience and listening to one another. This year has felt like it might never end, and as we round the final corner of the Fall semester, we’re greeted with the promise of a new year. While there is just as much uncertainty in the air as there was in August, our community is rising to the occasion as we carry forward the same optimism, respect, and care that we bring to each semester. As we set our sights on the next horizon, may we apply diligence, kindness, and healing to the goals we set today, and all the days to come.