The annual Cabrini Day celebration took on a hybrid virtual format this year, as students presented research and their personal experiences tied to the 2020 theme, “COVID-19 and Human Dignity” on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
The day’s activities were presented in a combination of virtual and in-person modalities, as students in the morning session conducted much of their commentary live over video conferencing, while the afternoon’s keynote speakers presented live as well as virtually in Grace Hall to both in-person and virtual audiences. A mile-long Walk For Freedom march, organized by the Engagements of the Common Good (ECG) 200 Anti-Human Trafficking class, concluded the Cabrini Day program by raising awareness for victims of sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor.
“I am so proud of Cabrini students and how they are addressing so many of these systemic issues,” said Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Thank you to the students for studying these topics in your research and presentations. In a world where too many are focused on selfish issues, you are focused on Cabrini’s Education of the Heart.”
Morning Research Presentations
Students examined and presented research regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare systems, individuals’ mental and physical health, immigration, education, climate change, and human rights. Research presentations included “Coping strategies during a pandemic”; “Engaging young people in civic life”; “Impact of COVID-19 on undocumented immigrants in the U.S.”; “Trapped: COVID-19 and Domestic Violence”; and “Virtual learning in Latinx communities,” among many more.
Afternoon Keynote Speakers
These sessions featured personal anecdotes and reflections on life during the pandemic from four students. Ryan Calderaro (ʼ22), Kayla Hunt (ʼ21), Shaiann Lyde (ʼ21), and Amanda Lynn (ʼ21), each shared how they have worked to uphold Cabrinian values of academic excellence and service to others, despite the challenges of the life during the COVID-19 crisis and months of social unrest.
A common thread through the keynote presentations was each student’s ability to gain strength from time spent reflecting inward while the world outside became unstable and unsafe.
- Calderaro, a business management and marketing double major who also plays on Cabrini’s golf team, said he was fortunate enough to find time during the pandemic to devote toward improving his public speaking skills and financial investment knowledge.
“There is opportunity in even the strangest of times,” he said. “I can look back on this as a lifelong lesson.
- Hunt, who has a double major in Writing and Music with a minor in Philosophy, said she took comfort in bonding with her sister and committing to self-care routines during the prolonged lockdown, even when the state of the world overwhelmed her. She also learned to tune out depressing news and updates from social media, instead focusing on her passion for making music.
“I know myself a lot more than I did around this time last year,” Hunt said. “I needed the best and healthiest space for the songs in my album and being as sensitive as I am, I couldn’t have all of American society weighing on me. It might sound selfish, but it was an expression of self-care.”
- Lyde, who studies Health Science with the aim of becoming a pediatrician, shared a number of converging personal circumstances, including getting hit by a car and losing her job, that made the pandemic especially challenging. These difficulties inspired Lyde to take control of her situation and focus on accelerating her schoolwork with summer classes.
“All the many problems, stress, and suffering that I endured throughout the pandemic are only temporary, and I had to have courage and support in order to keep a positive mindset and know that there will be greater days,” said Lyde, who also runs cross country at Cabrini. “I suggest people start looking at the bigger picture and realize that not everything is supposed to be easy.”
- Lynn was returning from a Cabrini service retreat in New Orleans in early 2020 when she saw more and more people at the airport wearing masks. She said she and her classmates never imagined the novel coronavirus would spread as much as it did. With the cancellation of her spring study abroad trip and an additional service retreat, Lynn said she found herself with unexpected downtime.
“The first thing I learned about myself [in quarantine] was that I needed a break,” said Lynn, who is an Elementary Education with Special Education major, a Pierce fellow, and a Cabrini swimmer. “Being the busy bee I was, I never really got a break to sit down and breathe.”
“This has been an opportunity to talk about the problems presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and to present solutions that bring us together as a community,” said Nune Grigoryan, PhD, Co-Chair of the Cabrini Day Organizing Committee and Associate Professor of Communication.