This reporter’s assignment was inspired by CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez’s comments in a digital press release to the CUNY community at the start of the 2022 semester: “Welcome to the new academic year, and if you’re a first-time student or new faculty or staff member, welcome to CUNY,” he said. “I’m excited for the start of a fall semester that will bring back campus life in a bigger way than at any point since the pandemic. So if you ask me if CUNY is back to normal, I say, no – it’s better than normal.”
In light of the Chancellor’s comments, Olivia Woodruff was asked how her semester was going? “It’s been nice so far,” she said. Woodruff said she expected some challenges along the way but no anything that she wouldn’t be able to handle. Woodruff moved to the Big Apple to enroll in Hunter after her graduation from high school in Hoover, Alabama.
She was candid about leaving “the hole that is Alabama,” and said that she considered The Big Apple significantly safe because of the way the city handled what she said was the unpredictability of the pandemic in terms of social distancing and mask mandates, which are no longer required at CUNY campuses though testing continues for students. She said she also felt safe at Hunter for the same reasons and also because she became strongly connected to her teammates on the Hunter Hawks Women’s Softball Team – a pleasure, she said, making it easy for her to hook up with like-minded people to share experiences about juggling school schedules, jobs, internships and sundry other things that students must contend with in these challenging times.
Woodruff juggles a hefty schedule. She is taking a credit overload, which Hunter allows for talented students who want to take more than 15 credits of classes in one semester. Because of this benefit, Woodruff said, she must stay focused on what could be, if she is not careful, an overwhelming list of academic matters regarding course of study. “I have structure,” she said, explaining in three words why she can carry more credits than many students might never consider.
Milan Dupuy, 21, a transfer from Borough of Manhattan Community College, lives in East New York, Brooklyn, was also interviewed. She too decided to carry a hefty load this semester like her classmate, Olivia Woodruff. While Woodruff has responsibilities that keep her on campus because of sports, Dupuy, once the treasurer of the Black Student Union on campus, scoots off campus after her classes end. At the time of this interview she was looking for an internship and working at Ulta Beauty on 86 Street and Third Avenue as a part-time beauty advisor.
Being a student can mean many things. Hunter students whom this reporter knows are motivated and organized to deal with the chaos of the times. They pursue activities that may help them in the future.
Jude Rollinson can be reached at JUDE.ROLLISON96@myhunter.cuny.edu