Sunday, March 26, 2023

Student, Interrupted: Lessons from Corlew


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Story by Nicole Alexander/ Contributing Writer

As a Middle Tennessee State University freshman hoping to have a great “first-year experience,” the coronavirus threw my class, particularly those of us who live on campus, quite the curveball. Shortly after spring break, hundreds of students began vacating the residence halls.

Buds bloom on an empty lawn at MTSU.
Buds bloom without an audience. (Nicole Alexander/ MTSU Sidelines)

I elected to stay in my room in Corlew Hall, rather than go home to Christiana. A month into this “new” normal, there’s only about 500 of us who remain on campus.

Sometimes I forget what’s happened and when I look out of my window in the morning, I expect to see a slew of people walking around the Business and Aerospace building.

However, it’s empty.

A near empty message board sits on a quiet campus sidewalk.
A near empty message board speaks loudly. (Nicole Alexander/ MTSU Sidelines)

There is the occasional jogger or a family taking a walk, but besides that, the campus is almost a complete ghost town.

Being in a small dorm room during a pandemic has its moments. Eventually, the cinderblock walls began to feel a little confining. Taking walks has really helped me keep my sanity and manage stress. I take a walk around campus at least once or twice a week, weather permitting and what I see in the wake of COVID-19 is bizarre. Where there should be skateboarders, couples, friends eating lunch together, and the guy talking about Jesus in front of the library, there is nothing. The campus is too quiet, almost as if we are trapped inside an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I come away from these walks with one thought on my mind: I miss my friends.

If this virus has taught me anything besides to wash my hands often, it’s that I now know how easy it is to take others for granted…and take life for granted.

Whether it’s sitting down in a restaurant with my family, hanging out with my friends at the park or bowing my head to pray in a pew-filled church, I’m ashamed to say it took a global pandemic for me to understand the value of these small blessings.

I hope as a society, the citizens of the world can persevere this time of pain, and when it’s over I hope we can more gratefully cherish our time with one another.

Because I…we… have seen first-hand how quickly all that we truly appreciate can be taken away.

A lawn grows tall at MTSU as students and workers remain home.
Everybody’s gone and the grass grows long.(Nicole Alexander/ MTSU Sidelines)

To contact Editor-in-Chief Angele Latham, email

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