COVID-19 as a college freshman

By: Luke Bertaux

This is definitely not the way I expected my freshman year of college to end. I was at McFarlin Library on March 10 with my Global Scholars group writing up a big case analysis we had due the next day, when we all suddenly got an email that courses were immediately moving online. At the time, TU was one of the first schools in the area to make this decision, so the news genuinely seemed too bizarre to be real.

Luke Bertaux and his Little Brother Angel leaping in the air
My little brother, Angel, and me

Little did I know, I would be packing up my belongings three days later and driving myself home to Texas, not to return for the rest of the semester and hoping that my 2008 Toyota Prius would survive the journey home.

The abrupt end to my freshman year on campus was difficult to accept, as I had just started to get involved with more activities around Tulsa. Shortly before the pandemic started, I was paired with my little brother, Angel, through a youth mentoring program called Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. Since moving back to Texas, I have enjoyed being able to use technology to continue talking to Angel and trying to navigate through our new temporary normal.

Luke Bertaux and a friend wearing face masks outside a Walmart store
A Walmart run during the pandemic

Through the transition to online classes, seeing my classmates in tiny boxes on my computer screen was strange at first, but I am glad that technology is allowing us to stay connected with professors and classmates. Still, virtual technology, no matter how smooth and high resolution, cannot replace the on-campus living experience, the conversations on the way in and out of classrooms, the weekends exploring Tulsa and the personal relationships with professors.

Luke Bertaux jumping in a wooded area
Social distancing in the woods

Life is different because of COVID-19. My easy 90-second walk from my dorm room to the Chick-fil-A in the Student Union has transformed into suiting up in a required mask and gloves to head into Walmart to get groceries. The usual welcome diversions of friends stopping by my dorm room while studying have turned into walking my dogs in between virtual classes. I will no longer get to go to Panama in May with my Global Scholars cohort, and I won’t have the opportunity to compete as a TU finalist for the Worlds Challenge Challenge in Canada.

But that’s ok. I know that as soon as I am able to return to TU’s campus, I will be able to be a part of so many more opportunities. I eagerly await the day I get to go back. Everybody is making sacrifices to adapt to the pandemic lifestyle and so many workers are putting in tons of effort to keep essential services running. I think of the beautiful campus and phenomenal students and professors that I get to return to in order to help me stay motivated during these difficult, but tolerable, times.

Luke Bertaux and two friends jumping up in the University of Tulsa football stadium
Pre-pandemic Chapman Stadium photoshoot

University of Tulsa freshman Luke BertauxLuke Bertaux is a freshman at The University of Tulsa pursuing a dual degree with majors in International Business and Spanish. He is from Keller, Texas, and in his free time he enjoys running and performing music.