A lot has changed since the end of the spring semester last year. I had my first co-op term in the fall semester. Early this year, I got promoted to a manager at my part-time job. Halfway through this school year’s spring semester, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country and put entire states into lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. It is hard to think back to the beginning of the school year to reflect on the year as a whole after everything that has happened recently, but I will do my best.

The beginning of this school year saw me on my first co-op. I spent the first half of the fall semester creating engineering drawings, testing products, and supporting some of the ongoing projects at the company. In addition to continuing to support ongoing projects, I was the lead design engineer for a product line during the second half of the semester. My experiences showed me that I enjoy working with the new product development process and I would be happy working in a new product development department when I look for a job after graduation. I have returned to the same company for my second co-op over the summer and have been working more on sustaining engineering projects. I am excited to work with a different department and gain a wider range of experience.

Just after I reached three years of working as a cashier at a small grocery store, I was promoted to a manager. My new duties include helping at both the registers when needed, as well as making sure the store is clean and organized. The store is small — we normally only need four workers at a time — but it is still strange to be the second youngest of the workers there at any given time. I wasn’t expecting some of the workers who had been there longer than I had to be so willing to listen to me as a manager, but in the three years that I had been working as a cashier, I had shown that I was a hard worker and would do what I could to help the store succeed. Everyone at the store respects each other, and this allows us to work well together.

I am sure a lot of people are tired of hearing about the pandemic, but it has had a significant impact on this year so I can’t ignore it for this reflection. The most obvious of the virus’ impacts on my life is the switch to online classes for the second half of the spring semester. Our professors were taken by surprise when the university announced the switch to remote classes, but they did their best to keep our courses as consistent as possible. The adjustment period was next to nonexistent for some courses due to tests that had been scheduled during that first week after spring break, but I learned how to adapt my studying and look for other learning resources to best suit the new situation. In addition to the switch to remote classes, the pandemic also canceled a three-week-long trip that was planned for our German dance group to tour Europe performing and exploring the history of our group. This was something I had been looking forward to for years as my grandparents were forced to flee their homes during World War II. Every event in Cincinnati and our travel plans were canceled this summer. Even though I know it is for the best, it has been hard to not see my family and all of the people who have become like my family.

Sophomore Year

This year has been one of both trials and triumphs, but through it all, I have grown more confident in myself and my abilities. My goal for the coming school semesters is to continue to get all A’s or A-‘s in my classes. I did not get the chance to become as involved as I would have liked in the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society due to the shift to remote classes, so next year I want to participate in more events. It is a great opportunity for me to grow academically and personally, and I want to take it. I want this next year to be filled with fulfilling experiences that will let me grow my education, my friendships, and myself.

A socially-distanced family Memorial Day celebration. Starting from the left, clockwise: My sister, mom, dad, Oma (grandma), brother, and myself.