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Mississippi College Students Cope with Coronavirus Challenges

SGA President Aaron Feazelle
SGA President Aaron Feazelle

Navigating online classes at home, missing classmates and dealing with anxiety, millions of USA college students are adjusting to new realities driven by COVID-19.

It’s a heart-wrenching Spring 2020 that Mississippi College student leader Aaron Feazelle never anticipated.

“It is extremely sad to know that this is how the rest of the semester is going to be,” Feazelle said from his home in Diamondhead, Mississippi. “But it is inspiring how everyone through social media outlets is staying connected.”

Wearing No. 9 as a standout quarterback for the MC Choctaws, Feazelle faced adversity before. A serious injury on the field sidelined him towards the end of the 2019 season. And he still must have ACL surgery. But that was minor compared to the deadly virus impacting so many people.

The MC Student Government Association President, Feazelle is making the best of it on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The MC Presidential Ambassador is spending time with his family, tackling online classes and reading the Bible.

“I think it is important for all of us to go back to our foundation, especially when we have so many questions,” Feazelle says. “We have to remember that there is only one who has all the answers, so we must turn to Him for those.”

The business administration major phones friends, family and MC President Blake Thompson, among others. “I spoke to Dr. Thompson recently, and am thankful for his leadership during this difficult time.”

As of March 26, America reported nearly 82,000 Coronavirus cases, including more than 1,000 deaths. The United States is now the world leader in COVID-19 cases. That exceeds total cases in China or Italy.

Due to the pandemic, MC officials postponed many campus events this Spring – from concerts to athletic contests, from major academic conferences to SGA elections. Online instruction is the new normal at schools nationwide.

It’s a time of unprecedented changes in all 50 states and worldwide. New York is the epicenter of the USA’s health crisis with New Orleans among the hot spots.

“This has flipped everyone’s world upside down,” said Jill Dickerson, 21, an MC public relations major from Memphis.

Elected in a Zoom online meeting this week as the new Laguna social tribe president, Dickerson didn’t feel like celebrating as she connected with classmates.

“While we have kept ourselves entertained, I am hurting for people all over the world,” says Dickerson, a rising senior.

“This is a rare moment in history, and I am sad that we are part of it. The Lord has purpose in everything and I am taking this time to listen to what He is trying to tell us,” added the Tennessee resident.

In between online classes, Dickerson walks and cooks, while discovering new recipes from her mom. The Dickerson family cleans the house to avoid boredom.

This summer should be a much better as Jill works as a Washington intern for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. Joining her in that role in DC will be an MC friend, Emmie Fuson of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

MC student Sophie Abuzeid returned home to San Antonio, Texas, a long road trip to the Christian university in Clinton. The graphic design major spends quality time at her computer with online classes. The MC Writing Center tutor is due to graduate in December. Transitioning to life in the Lone Star State hasn’t been hard.

“I was homeschooled for 12 years so being back at home doing homework feels nostalgic and familiar,” Abuzeid said.  Still, “I look forward to going back to campus soon (hopefully),” she said.

The COVID-19 crisis abruptly changed the way Spring unfolded for SGA Vice President Damon Wright, a communication major. The Choctaws football player is taking 18 hours of online classes from his home in Hoover, Alabama. MC professors, he says, are doing “a great job in communicating with us the changes, new expectations and the wants on their end.”

Away from his computer, Wright, 21, watches Netflix, runs, reaches out to friends and hangs with family. Joining many praying the worldwide health emergency ends soon, the Alabama resident looks forward to his MC graduation in May 2021.