STORY & PHOTO BY GIOVANNI GARCIA
Since the start of the spring term students and teachers alike at Cypress College have been feeling mixed emotions about this new experience. Students during the first week of school normally feel that uplifting buzz of being back amongst peers and teachers, but this semester yields a different story.
Certain strains can weigh on students as well as professors such as psychological and emotional harm. Although not all students experience these particular burdens, a large amount do.
Toan Vo, a first year student here at Cypress College, expressed how he felt coming into school this year and the steps he needed to take to adjust.
“Honestly it’s alright, but it’s been hard to adjust, since the pandemic,” Vo said. “But with the pandemic coming to an end, I hope, I’m sure the school year for me will be quite alright!”
Interestingly enough Vo and other students have said they are elated to have returned to school in person rather than through their electronic devices on Zoom. At home students are more susceptible to being distracted and off-task, but with in-person classes gradually being reinstated, they can now revert back to the learning methods they’re accustomed to.
While some students struggle adjusting mentally, others felt confident heading into the new year. Gus Bray, a first year student seeking his degree in Aviation, feels Cypress is exactly where he needs to be. When asked how he felt mentally coming back to school he said, “Enthusiastic, excited, eager, and passionate.”
Bray has made a big transition as he steps out of a longtime career in order to pursue a new one which requires his education. Essentially “starting from zero,” Bray explained his outlook on his situation as having a sense of fear, but using that fear in a positive way to fuel his drive towards success. As he transitions back into the routine that college life has to offer, he is making it his goal to become “like a sponge,” taking in all the knowledge Cypress has to offer to eager minds.
Professor Josh House, who has taught for 20 years, has stepped out of his comfort zone this semester as he teaches a new course he’s never covered prior.
He said, “I’m happy to not be stuck at home for so long, so it’s good to have some interaction.” Professor House always wore a mask during his lectures, and although he found comfort in it, he also felt it hindered his ability to connect with his students. He’s put a lot of thought into improving his teaching strategies in order to reach his goal of “facilitating each student getting as much as they can out of the classes that he teaches.”
Many students might not recognize when they’re going through mental stress, let alone informing someone when this occurs, and this often leads to more duress. According to Anna Spencer-Lonetti, Mental Health Counselor at the Cypress Wellness Center, a survey was conducted last April that showed students struggle with anxiety and depression during Covid. She believes that the survey isn’t a fair representation due to the lack of outreach from students.
Resources include, individual counseling with six sessions per student, workshops called “Wellness Wednesdays”, the Active Minds Club. There is also the Reach out, Ask for help, Do something, care program intended for both faculty and students. These resources are used to provide awareness and positive support systems for students to utilize.
Spencer-Lonetti spoke about the criteria of her sessions and said, “The first thing would be a quick assessment, getting some history and trying to connect with them so they feel safe within their space. If we don’t establish that foundation of them feeling safe, then it would be hard trying to talk to them.
“Then I’d leave the floor to them and see what they’re comfortable with sharing, and we don’t keep any records of mental health, so they feel safe.” After a session she would then conduct a set of goals with the student in order to improve their situation, with treatment varying on the need of the student.
“We’re hoping to engage students more and be in person more. We also have an after hours care now in order for students to reach out when we’re closed. We want students to know we’re here for support if you need it.”