A New Normal by Haili Jackson

People all over the world have been impacted by COVID-19. It has put many in a financial, mental, and physical bind – devastating households everywhere. As students, we have also been impacted by this pandemic – as many of us work to pay for school, know people affected by the virus, and can barely access or afford the resources we need. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is one of many schools which has been excused for the semester. It is our mission as storytellers to communicate the daily struggles, victories, and unique lifestyle changes that many continue to endure.

Journal Entry 4 – On the Frontlines

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dr. Brandon Colvin

Unlike many, my brother does not have the luxury of staying home. He is helping fight the deadly unknown that is the virus. His fight for himself is his fight for his patients, and those who are not infected. His fight is for the people who aren’t staying home or social distancing. His fight is for those who the virus has taken. I suppose many people who decide to go into the medical field have a huge pull towards saving people or bringing people answers. One of the hardest things he said is “seeing patients when you don’t know what the best way is to help them…. this is going to be a long-term thing and we don’t have the right answer right now.” It helped me understand some of the struggles that doctors are dealing with during this time. It’s the discomfort of a new normal – not only a new environment but their biggest job, bringing people closure with answers. But they are just as in the dark and as we are. Today his fight to save himself is his fight to save others.

Journal Entry 3 – Long Distance

Monday, March 30, 2020

International Family

Kirsty Beckwith is a golfer and international graduate student at UTC. While interviewing Kirsty, she had a more positive outlook on quarantine. She mentioned, “I am finding it ok to be honest… our season has been completely canceled so I am not going to be missing any classes for golf so I feel like this is a great time just to get on top of my schoolwork everything is online so I won’t miss anything important that is said in class so I feel quite good about it…” Kirsty’s family currently lives in Leads, UK and when asked about it, conditions there seemed dire. “Oh the UK is really struggling they’re in total lockdown right now. They do not have enough hospitals or staff to take care of everyone.” Both of her parents have advised her that although the semester is online now, it is safest for her to stay in Chattanooga. Despite not being able to go home to her family in the UK, Kirsty seeks a tremendous amount of love and support from her golf family.

Journal Entry 2 – Uncertainty

Saturday, March 28, 2020

UTC student, Jacob Cook, is back in Chattanooga after his Study Abroad program is canceled


Jacob Cook was forced to return home while studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland for less than 2 months. He arrived in Geneva January 27 and eventually came back to Chattanooga once he was notified that his study abroad program was closed. UTC has given study abroad students the option to either continue the program online with no reimbursement but credits will be fulfilled or withdraw from the program and get half tuition and half room and board but no credits. He has chosen to withdraw from classes for the semester. Jacob hopes to make up the program and credits over the summer to stay on track for graduation.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Tahlor Tibbs moves out of her last dorm room 2 months early

The Unknown

Tahlor, a graduating senior from UTC, packing up her last dorm room of her undergraduate experience. She explained that she was prepared to eventually say goodbye to the dorms but she was sad to see it cut short. She is now forced to go home to Nashville not knowing if she still has a job. Her mom has recently lost her job due to the pandemic, Tahlor is unsure of where things lay.

Journal Entry 1 – Reality Sets In

Monday, March 23, 2020

Current waitress and former UTC student, Sarah Gantner, counts her money to help her friends get by for the tough months ahead
Together, We will get by

Former UTC student and current waitress, Sarah Gantner, counts her money to help two of her friends pay rent and eat next month. Sarah, who graduated from UTC in the fall, moved back home to Memphis to work as a server with a goal to eventually save up enough money to move from Memphis to Colorado. Although she is saving up for herself, she gave two of her good friends money knowing they are struggling to make ends meet after being laid off. She didn’t bat an eye at giving them some of her hardly earned money knowing they are both out of work. Sarah came to Chattanooga for the weekend and when she returned to Memphis, she was only allowed to do to-go orders for her job – now barely making enough to afford household expenses and food. Despite this new being substantially less than she would normally earn in tips, Sarah is positive and happy to even have some sort of income during a time when most people do not.

March 24, 2020

MLK Blvd. is just as empty as the night sky

Tonight, Martin Luther King Boulevard is still. The parking spots that students and civilians once fought over are now empty but not welcoming. The stop lights continue to change as the crosswalk beeps are the only sound for miles. The sidewalks are clear of pedestrians. No airplanes occupy the night sky.

Meet the Storyteller

Haili Jackson

Haili Jackson is a senior studying communication and psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is most passionate about creative storytelling, social justice, and journalism. She hopes to educate the public on social issues through compelling presentations. To view her work and/or collaborate, contact Haili at pnn573@mocs.utc.edu.

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