It’s hard to put words into sentences that creates a reflection about how this semester went. But that’s my job as a writer; to create a narrative that encapsulates what happened. So, that’s what I’m going to try and do.

I’m going to take my semester, all the ups, downs, the good times and the bad and formulate a story that encompasses the lessons I’ve learned between March and now. 

The through line of this story is resilience. The people who I have been surrounded by this past year have shown me how resilient humans are and how determined we are even in the face of impossibility and the unknown.

Being surrounded by the kids I worked with at Finch Elementary this summer, my professors and classmates, the Bulletin staff and my housemates, I was reminded just how lucky we are to be here, to be working and to be learning.

Getting through the dread that came with realizing how everything had changed was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. But the silver lining of all of this is that I learned so much about just how much we have to be grateful for.

This summer I worked with kids at Finch Elementary. They were a part of a summer care program and they were there primarily because their parents were first responders and other  care workers. My job was to help them with schoolwork, feed them breakfast and make sure they kept their masks on.

But soon, this job became more than a job. It was a source of joy and hope.

These kids were so resilient and to them there was nothing wrong going on. Their biggest concern was about losing a game of Mancala or asking me why they couldn’t do handstands in the gym.

And for every time they fell or lost, they got back up again and tried again. They weren’t exhausted or tired they were full of energy and life, despite everything going on in the world.

Their resilience inspired me. Their love of life and simple understanding of what life is has deeply impacted me and has kept me going throughout the semester. 

Cut to Sept. 1 when I sat down at my desk in my bedroom for my first day of online school. Coming off a summer of working and adjusting to the pandemic I was just excited to be back in a classroom, albeit virtually.

To my amazement my professors created a learning environment where I felt like I was picking up new skills, understanding theory and critically thinking at a deeper level than I have in a long time.

Their enthusiasm to be teaching us and my classmates’ enthusiasm to just be back together made me enthusiastic about my education and inspired to challenge my understanding of anything.

The biggest challenge I took on not only this semester, but probably in life all together, was being the editor-in-chief of this paper. I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but I can single-handedly say it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

The reason I feel so confident in saying this is because of the people I was surrounded by. There is absolutely no way I could have made it through this semester without Spencer, Mila, Chiana, Melina, Thea, Hannah, Natalie, Luke, Audrey, Vinny and Asher. There is no way I could have made it through this semester without a writing staff that was so ready and willing to take on anything.

They made my job easy even when it was hard. Being able to go into work every week and see these beautiful people in person was the highlight of my semester.

This semester we created content that we knew was important. This semester we created more content than ever before despite there seeming to be less than ever before. This semester we created content through so many challenges and setbacks, but we did it with resilience and a smile.

I’m so inspired by the people I work with. Their ability to take on stories they’re scared of, help even when they didn’t know the answers yet and stay determined, inspired and excited about their work, in turn made me so grateful to be in this position. 

Then on the days where I’d come home from work exhausted and beat down, I’d have my housemates to remind me to take a breath and a break. 

Though it seemed like there was nothing we could do, somehow, we’ve done more in the past few months than I could have ever dreamed of.

Safe and socially distanced road trips filled August, card games and Bananagrams filled September, walks and trips to Green Bluff made up October and holiday movies and painting made up November and what is now December.

These simple acts done out of boredom and a need to go somewhere are what have created some of my favorite college memories that I will never forget. The five lovely ladies that I live with have made this semester one full of joy.

There are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now and there is a lot to be worried about, and it’s definitely a lot more than normal. And trust me I worry probably too much about it all. But there are also a lot of things to be grateful for and happy about.

If I’ve learned anything this semester it’s that humans are resilient and that out of the worst of times the best of times emerge.

Riley Utley is the editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter: @rileyutley.


Major: Journalism I came to work at The Bulletin to gain valuable skills in reporting and editing to enhance my work as a journalist.

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