My name is Rachel Hill. I am the program coordinator for the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) Criminology & Criminal Justice (CCJS) program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). I graduated from the UMCP Communication program at USG in 2015 and have been working for the CCJS program since 2016.
I am not writing this post from a desk in an office building. Instead, I am writing on a laptop, sitting on my living room couch. The campus buildings are not open, and everyone is working at home. Staff, faculty, and students. It’s a massive adjustment; a new world for higher education. We are all entirely remote.
Our department in particular has a unique perspective on this international crisis. Many of our faculty members work in law enforcement, at hospitals, for government agencies, or within the field of social work. Many of our students aspire to join those careers as well. We are grateful for faculty members that are working daily to adapt their teaching and continue to provide quality education.
Our department has been making use of technology as we continue to work remotely. We have been able to continue with advising appointments via Google Hangouts, giving students the opportunity to speak with their advisors face-to-face. This seems to be working well so far! We are also working on producing new strategies for getting information to prospective students who need it. Voice-over presentations, live info sessions with Zoom, and extended info packets are all in the works. And while a lot of these changes have been stressful for sure, this might be the silver lining — we are being forced to learn how to use these tools, which will likely prove useful even when we return to normal life.
On a personal note, I would like to say that I am very proud of our students, and all the students at USG, for pushing through these challenges for the sake of their education. I know many of our students are juggling family responsibilities, new work expectations, sickness, isolation, and insecurity. I have been home for the past two weeks, trying to do my part to flatten the curve, and I’m not going to pretend that this has been easy. But I’m trying to look for the bright moments in my day. Just this afternoon, I spent some time sitting on the front porch with my seven-month old daughter, soaking in some sunshine and fresh air. Refreshing moments like that give me the encouragement I need to keep working hard!
None of us anticipated the semester to end like this, but the determination and hard work we have seen from our students is uplifting. We are here to help you, so please reach out if there is any way we can make this experience less stressful. If you have questions about our program, please join us for one of our upcoming virtual info sessions. We hope to see you all back on campus very soon!