Preface: In March 2020, the TRIP@WTHS'20 session was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the program ended early, our students continued to pursue their interests, to grow, and to adapt. In July, we invited the TRIP@WTHS'20 alumni to reflect on how they spent their time in quarantine. This is Katie's story.
Quarantine has undoubtedly been a challenge, but I have also embraced it as an opportunity to change and grow - mentally, emotionally, and physically.
When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out, I never knew how much this experience would alter the lives of everyone I knew. After the news broke, school was suspended and TRIP sessions were canceled but with the hope that we might still be able to emerge from the virus after several weeks. Although our hopes did not become reality, I have had the time to reflect on what TRIP meant to me and how I might make the most out of quarantine. TRIP was a program beyond science--it forced me to grow as both a teammate and a leader. It pushed my introverted nature to be social and connect with the TRIP family who, although we did not have an opportunity to formally say goodbye, will always be my teammates. My love for science was fostered, and I had the opportunity to connect my personal history with physical ailments to research and to better appreciate the true impact science can have on the world.
Four months ago, my family was planning to travel to Europe over the summer as our final family trip before my brother left for college. Besides that, I planned to go to theme parks with my friends and enjoy beaches and pools. Yes, it was a struggle when I watched everything fall to pieces, but I also knew that I had an opportunity to challenge myself. One quote which stands out when describing my experience in quarantine is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”-Fred Devito. Quarantine has undoubtedly been a challenge, but I have also embraced it as an opportunity to change and grow - mentally, emotionally and physically.
Mentally, I have been participating in the Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering Innovation Course, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute Summer Immersion Program, and python coding classes. After about two days into quarantine, I realized how much I needed to continue to pursue science by whatever means possible. Because my summer schedule was cleared, I had several months that stared back at me vacant. Through the summer programs, I have been able to meet with kids all over the world and work to develop biomedical engineering projects with aid from our advisors. If quarantine had not happened, I would never have had the opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a scientist.
Emotionally, quarantine has forced me to put everything into perspective and learn gratitude. For the first few days, I was focused on my world falling apart rather than the whole world. However, I soon learned how grateful I was to have my health. With the Live Like Blaine Leadership Academy, I was able to work with other girls my age to design a virtual 5k fundraiser to support COVID-19 relief. Through this project, we raised over $3,000 for Feeding America and Project Home. Beyond the money we raised, I learned that even though we are all socially distanced, something deeper connects us than touch. To learn gratitude, I started creating a gratitude journal in which I simply list five things I am grateful for every day. This small shift in thinking has allowed my outlook on life to change. Spending time with my family and facetime with my friends has kept us connected and even in some cases brought us closer.
Physically, I have had the opportunity to work and overcome the obstacle of POTS through continuous exercise. For the past few years, POTS has ruled my life, but I have finally had the chance to take control through exercise and improve my quality of life.
Yes, quarantine has been a struggle for me and everyone else as we were forced to rapidly adapt to this new, socially distant lifestyle. But, I have tried to make the most of it. I will leave everyone with one final thought: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light” -Dumbledore.