Larissa Martinez ’21 |  Major: Marketing | Resident Assistant

How has life on campus been so far?

I stayed over the summer prepping for training, preparing safety measures and protocols. About halfway through the summer, we found out that the campus wouldn’t be opening at full capacity. So it’s now Fall and we have about 45 students living on campus, one in each room. We all live in O’Brian Hall. These students are here for emergency housing so it’s a very different experience. I have a fridge, microwave, and rice cooker, and feeding myself using these has been an adventure in itself. 

I really commend all the students that are living on campus right now. We aren’t allowed in each other’s rooms and only two people are allowed in the bathroom at one time.  Living on campus right now is definitely very different than usual. So, we’re all just trying to learn together and be there as a team, make events work, and get through this together. This is a whole different experience, and seeing everyone adapt and learn as we go is really inspiring. I was able to get Ace, my 1-year-old English Bulldog to keep me company this semester, and he’s been so great to have around during these times.

We’re just starting to do things like socially distanced food trucks on Wednesdays and movies on the quad. Student Affairs is really going above and beyond, coming up with new, safe events and community engagement. There is so much changing and Menlo has kept right up with that. 

Is it hard being an RA during a pandemic?

It’s hard to connect as an RA because we can’t interact with our residents like we usually do. I really feel for all of my residents. As an RA, you’re used to existing with your residents in a certain way and being able to support them in a very specific way. Now everything is new…the contract we’re abiding by, the way we’re responding to situations. Especially for the freshmen – I see everyone doing their very best trying to make their College experience similar to what it’s always been. It’s really hard as an RA, the person who is supposed to support them, not being able to help them in the usual way. They can’t just come to knock on our door.  We have to meet over Zoom. 

What are some changes you have experienced?

It’s my senior year and I had a lot of plans. I had actually been training to try to make a comeback from my adhesive capsulitis (aka frozen shoulder) injury during my sophomore year and play softball again during my senior year. I had been training this past year to get to this point. I was also excited to be head RA and connect with my residents and to be a Senior and apply for jobs and interview at companies and think about what’s next.

Then the world kind of changed. The in-person semester was canceled, our athletic program was put on pause, housing wasn’t opening, and my teammates, friends and fellow RAs wouldn’t be coming back. You know, I had this dream of coming back from an injury and adding to what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown outside of athletics and having a great senior year.

How have you and your peers been adjusting to hybrid learning?

COVID has taught us so much. Last semester, my professors had to adapt so quickly to online classes, flipping classes online in just a couple weeks. Coming back this fall, I feel like they’re professionals! They came back and they’re all trained, resilient, understanding, empathetic. As a student, it’s been really challenging and they make it so much easier. It’s nice to know we’re all going through this together.

I had an expectation in my head that was like a dream. Now, it’s funny that it seems like it was just a dream. It’s been difficult to adjust but the support system we still have, the same but provided in a different way, has made me so grateful for Menlo. I’m glad that of all the places I could be, I’m here at Menlo. I’m so grateful for the members of the community that is here right now. This whole community is resilient and I feel strengthened being a part of it.