Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter

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Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 05 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT Even before the coronavirus pandemic propelled UNLV into remote learning in the spring, online courses at UNLV were prevalent.  "There's been a steady decrease in the number of students that have never taken an online course," said Elizabeth Barrie, the director of the Office of Online Education . She recently presented during The State of Online Education webinar event. It highlighted some of the initiatives and cross-campus partnerships that contribute to student achievement and shared how faculty prepared for online learning through the summer. She noted that 95% of students who graduated in spring 2020 with an undergraduate degree had taken at least one online course. And, compared to past years, there has been an increase in the number of students who have taken more than 30 credits, or two semesters, online. 

Photo Essay: BU Community Takes Up New, Sometimes Not-So-New, Hobbies during Pandemic - BU Today

Photo Essay: BU Community Takes Up New, Sometimes Not-So-New, Hobbies during Pandemic - BU Today


Photo Essay: BU Community Takes Up New, Sometimes Not-So-New, Hobbies during Pandemic - BU Today

Posted: 02 Dec 2020 12:00 AM PST

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches close to its one-year mark, shuttering most theaters, concert stages, clubs, and sporting arenas, millions of Americans have taken up new hobbies or returned to hobbies they enjoyed long ago to help fill their leisure time. 

Earlier this fall, we reached out to members of the BU community and asked them to share with us the hobbies they have discovered or rediscovered during the pandemic for a special photo essay. 

BU photographer Cydney Scott came up with the idea for the project after interviewing a student who told her she'd decided to learn how to skateboard when the pandemic hit. Cyd, too, had picked up a new hobby—making homemade ice cream. She figured there were probably a lot more faculty, students, and staff who were doing the same thing. She was right. 

The ongoing pandemic posed certain challenges, Scott says. "I always had a mask on when I visited participants for their photo shoots, and I shot for as short a time as possible. This is a challenge when you're used to lingering with subjects until they grow comfortable with your presence." Where it made sense, Scott shot her subjects outdoors, but that wasn't always possible. "Oftentimes," she says, "windows were opened prior to my arrival and left open for the duration of the shoot, and subjects wore their masks right up until photographing began." 

Take a look at the hobbies some BU students, faculty, and staff have taken up over the past few months. They may inspire you to check out a new hobby, too.

Tatyana F. Da Rosa (CAS'20, Questrom'21)
Hobby: Makeup and makeup tutorials

Da Rosa applying makeup in her StuVi II suite, with her phone and ring light close by to shoot one of her instructional videos (left) and her completed look (right).

"The hobby I got into over quarantine was makeup, doing various eyeshadow and eyeliner looks specifically. Creating different makeup looks is such a fun way of combining self-expression, art, skill, and creativity all on your own face! I also started making tutorials on Tiktok (@tatyyy) to share the knowledge I had with others who may want to do the same. I love everything about makeup, but as a Black woman, it hasn't been easy to shop around for what is meant to work for me. However, with more brands becoming aware of the struggle that darker skin-toned people face, it's been a real joy to finally watch the beauty community grow. Makeup has acted as a stress reliever and creative distraction for me during quarantine. It's time I set aside to express myself with nothing else in mind besides having fun with it. Makeup is harmless, yet powerful; it's temporary, yet beautiful; and it's really helped me focus my energy on something positive and so far fruitful."

Megan Nocivelli, Metropolitan College lecturer, administrative sciences
Hobby: Knitting

Photo of Megan Nocivelli, lecturer, administrative sciences, Metropolitan College, sitting in her home smiling with her dog on her lap as she knits. Yarn is seen in bags on the ground around her chair.

Nocivelli, who teaches marketing at MET, at her Marshfield home with her dog, Beezus Ramona.

"I learned to knit in sixth grade, but did not keep it up. I had been thinking about knitting again and with the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, it seemed like a good time to start up again. I ordered a kit online to make a cardigan sweater and then a hat, and I have been knitting steadily since April.

It is very relaxing and it's satisfying to see a project take shape. I need to pay attention enough to my knitting to prevent me from focusing on COVID-19, the economy, or the election. But my mind is free enough to listen to an audiobook or chat with someone while knitting. I find a lot of satisfaction in creating something out of nothing."

Scott Bunch, College of Engineering associate professor of mechanical engineering and of materials science and engineering
Hobby: Skateboarding

Photo of Scott Bunch, College of Engineering associate professor of mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, skateboarding down a skate ramp with a helmet and pads while wearing khakis and a button down.

Bunch skateboarding  at Arsenal Community Skatepark in Watertown.

"I recently got back into skateboarding after a 30-year hiatus. I love the physical and mental challenge of it, the excitement of landing a new trick, and the adrenaline rush of dropping down a ramp. It is a great way to get outside and blow off steam in these pandemic times, as long as you don't mind the inevitable bumps and bruises. After my first few days skating, my muscles were sore in places I didn't even know I had muscles, and falling on concrete took some getting used to. I am looking forward to many more years of my rediscovered hobby and maybe someday landing a kickflip off the stairs of the BU Photonics Center."

Megan Berkowitz (STH'21, SSW'21)
Hobby: Backstrap weaving

Photo of Megan Berkowitz (STH'21, SSW'21) leaning over a loom while backstrap weaving by hand. A tree with bright yellow leaves is seen in the background.
Berkowitz, a fourth year master of divinity and master of social work student, outside her Somerville home.

"I learned backstrap weaving from indigenous Tzotzil Maya women at their home in Zinacantán in Chiapas, Mexico, during the summer after my first year at BU. Even though I bought and made the tools I needed soon after that trip, in 2018, I didn't pick it back up again until March of 2020. I've been working on this project—it will  probably turn out to be a table runner—ever since. I do a lot of other types of crafts as gifts or on commission, so it's nice to have this project that's just about making something for the sake of it. Plus, the repetitive action of this simple project is really calming, as is being outside."

Luke Dwyer, director, financial and business, BU Athletics
Hobby: Cooking

Dwyer preparing Jamie Oliver's recipe for rosemary chicken with grilled polenta and asparagus in a porcini mushroom ragu sauce  for himself and his girlfriend, Jane Murray, at their home in Boston.  

"Searching for some television to watch during the lockdown in April, I found a British cooking show called 15 Minute Meals, hosted by Jamie Oliver. One episode I watched had a recipe for Indian spiced lamb chops with homemade curry sauce, and needing something to do with the pork chops sitting in my fridge that I struggled to cook, I decided to give the recipe a whirl. I've been cooking simple stuff most of my life, but moving to Indian food represented a huge culinary step forward. The dish was fantastic, even substituting pork for lamb, and I was inspired to make more of Jamie's recipes. The new ingredients and flavors from Jamie's and other recipes have been such a pleasure to look forward to during a time when we're all eating most of our meals at home."

Janice Checchio, BU Photography associate creative director
Hobby: Quilting

Photo of Janice Checchio, associate creative director, BU Photography sitting on her couch as she works on a large quilt with brightly-colored geometric shapes.
Checchio working on one of her original quilts at her Dorchester home.

"I pulled out my sewing machine early on in the pandemic—first to sew masks, and later, after a brief fling with making clothes—settling in on designing and making quilts. Developing a new tactile skill demands your attention; it absorbs you, and until it becomes muscle memory, forces your brain to be present to tell your hands what to do. After months of pandemic worries, frustration over the treatment of people of color, presidential anxiety, and motherhood, setting aside some time to be in my craft bubble was a solace. I'm also excited to have found I'm not very good at quilting. My ideas are far greater than my abilities, I take more shortcuts than would be advised, and I'm not good at sewing either curved lines or straight ones. Is it perfect? No. Is it relaxing? Also no. But is it done? Almost."

Bill Dupee, Questrom School of Business business analyst/consultant
Hobby: Building a flight simulator

Photo of Bill Dupee, business analyst/consultant, Questrom Info Tech Services Department, sitting in front of his computer as uses different joysticks to fly a plane using a flight simulator he built with his son.
Dupee at his home in Beverly with his flight simulator setup.

"I have always been interested in aviation, and I am an incurable techie nerd… Also, I am 76 years old and stuck at home in self-imposed 'geriatric quarantine,' as a category 4 BU staff employee. So, when Microsoft released a vastly improved Flight Simulator 2020 in August, I was very excited to 'escape' the confines of our condo on the North Shore in Beverly and tour the world. My son and I decided to build a flight simulator from scratch, complete with instruments, controls, and even rudder pedals! While confined to quarters at home, I can safely rendezvous with my son on the Internet. We can form up together and buzz the Logan Airport tower wing-on-wing. It's helped me stay connected, engaged, entertained, and I feel less contained and cooped up."

Sarah Kula (LAW'21)
Hobby: Embroidery

Kula embroidering a tote bag as a birthday gift for her roommate in Amory Park, Brookline. She learned to embroider from her sister in March when the pandemic struck Boston.

"I have my sister to thank for my embroidery hobby. She's been cross-stitching for a couple of years, but last winter she taught me all the basic skills and gave me a little starter kit. I taught myself a few more basics from YouTube and instagram, then worked my way up to bigger, more complicated projects over time. Since then, I've made a dozen or so pieces for friends and family, with varying success. This hobby has been an incredible source of joy, gratification, and community for me during the pandemic. Particularly this year in law school, the moments of pride and gratification have been few and far between. We're all feeling perpetually behind in our to-do lists, frustrated, and unable to judge our own academic performance. More importantly, we're extremely disconnected from our loved ones, including family and close friends from school. In a small but significant way, embroidery has helped me cope with those feelings. I feel a lot of pride and gratification when I create something new, and I feel more connected to my community when I spend time on a gift for my loved ones."

Thomas Bohrer, Athletics, head coach, men's crew
Hobby: Guitar

Photo of Thomas Bohrer plays some guitar with his daughter Sabrina at her home in Somerville.They sit outside on the porch of a light blue house.
Bohrer and his daughter Sabrina practicing guitar at her home in Somerville. 

"I started playing guitar in high school, but it had been about 30 years since I last played. My friend Mike got me interested in starting to play again during the summer of 2019. I started playing off and on for the next few months, but since COVID hit, I am playing every day. With so much time at home, I play three to four times a day, filling in the breaks between Zoom meetings. I find it to be very relaxing. As the chords started coming back, I just wanted to play all the time. Now that I am back on campus, when I get home from coaching I pick up and start playing when I walk in the door. My daughter Sabrina has started playing as well and even my wife is learning some chords and getting in on the action. My summer goal was to have 'tiny deck' concerts at our cottage in New Hampshire, where I could play for my family. They are nonjudging and think everything sounds good. As a coach I can say that the more you practice, the better you get, and it has been fun."

Emma French (COM'24)
Hobby: Juggling

Emma French in her Warren Towers dorm room practicing her juggling. She wears a spotted face mask; her dorm walls are covered with maps, photos, and cork boards.
French in her Warren Towers dorm room demonstrating her juggling, which she describes as "a great de-stressor."

"My new hobby is juggling. I actually took it up before quarantine as a high school project, but I wasn't very motivated and wasn't making lots of progress. After the world ended—COVID—I had a bunch of time and nothing to do, so I finally started practicing. Juggling ended up becoming a way for me to de-stress after online classes and other stuff. I still use it at BU to take my mind off everything that's been happening. It helps me focus on what's real and what I can control. Plus, it's a lot of fun."

Paul "Hutch" Hutchinson, Questrom senior lecturer, management and organizations
Hobby: Carpentry

Hutchinson working on a guitar stool in his woodshop at his home in Jaffrey, N.H. Since taking up carpentry, he's made handrails for his outdoor steps, a desk, a chair, and a nesting credenza for his son. 

"When COVID-19 hit, I dove into my new hobby of carpentry. This was partially in order to fix some things around the house, but mostly because I needed to get away from a screen and build something with my hands. Now I'm working on a guitar stool, which is really just a bar stool without the bar, but it will allow me to combine my new hobby of carpentry with my old hobby of playing folk music. After that, I'm likely to start replacing the numerous bookshelves around the house, most of which date back to our early days of marriage when most of our furniture came from Walmart or Target. By the time COVID's over and we can have guests in the house again, who knows what other treasures will have emerged from the woodshop."

Katherine Meyer Moran (GRS'04, Wheelock'13), Alumni Relations & Development, director, MET
Hobby: Bread baking

Photo of Katherine Meyer Moran with one of her loaves of sourdough bread at her home in Brookline. The oven is open as she quickly goes to slide in the bread. A fridge with fridge magnets are seen in the background.
Meyer Moran with one of her loaves of sourdough bread at her Brookline home.

"As someone who has always enjoyed eating fresh bread, when the pandemic began and our local bakery closed, I knew I wanted to, and would need to, learn how to bake my own bread. I began with a recipe for country bread from Jacques Pépin's Heart & Soul cookbook, and then, thanks to BU Food & Wine's Demystifying the Sourdough Starter, I learned the art of making flour and water into bread. It's been a treat, in a dark time, to share it with family, friends, and neighbors. I think poet Mary Oliver explains it best: 'Eat bread and understand comfort.'"

Grace Saathoff (CFA'22, COM'22)
Hobby: Sewing

Photo of Grace Saathoff, here in her Brookline home, sewed a wardrobe of vintage-inspired dresses over the summer. Saathoff wears a light blue polka-dotted dress and smiles; other dresses she's made hang in the background.
Saathoff, here in her Brookline home, sewed a wardrobe of vintage-inspired dresses over the summer. Her new hobby is sustainable since she used sheets she found at thrift stores. 

"This summer didn't go how I planned it to. I think everyone can say that. I had a summer job with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, which was canceled due to COVID, obviously. My family was also not able to return home for the summer because of the pandemic, as they live overseas. So, this summer, I was alone in Idaho, house-sitting for four months, with no job and no family. Sewing gave me a purpose. I was able to wake up and not worry about my family or the pandemic or the next school year, because I was able to focus on something I could control—constructing a 1950s dress. Sewing gave me a sense of purpose in a time when we couldn't do anything."

Grace Shaver (CGS'21)
Hobby: Jewelry making

Shaver, showing some of her playful earrings, makes her jewelry pieces at her apartment on Bay State Road .  

"I've always wanted to make jewelry, but didn't know where to start. This past summer I wasn't working as much as I normally would, and I figured since I had the time I might as well use it. I just looked up the easiest way to get into jewelry, and figured working with clay would be a good place to start on my own. It became like meditation—I'd spend hours making pieces or just trying out new things. It was great to have a finished product I was proud of, and I loved sharing what I'd created with friends and family. Jewelry making is definitely something I'll keep doing, and I can't wait to take some classes post-COVID."

Nyah Jordan (CGS'20, COM'22)
Hobby: Tennis

Photo of Nyah Jordan, BU Student Government vice president for internal affairs, in a red shirt and track paints, smiling, at the Harris Playground courts in Medford.
Jordan, BU Student Government vice president for internal affairs, at the Harris Playground courts in Medford. 

"I'm nowhere close to Serena Williams, but I think tennis is a lot of fun. I have a tennis court in my neighborhood back home in Hattiesburg, Miss., and I was looking for any reason to get out of my house after being stuck inside for two or three months. So, when my boyfriend asked me to come and play with his family, I was excited about the idea, even though I had never played tennis in my life before this summer. I ended up loving it. I just found a tennis court that no one really uses near my boyfriend's apartment in Medford and for the last couple of weeks, we have been playing there. While I definitely want to get better, the goal of it is just to have something active to do that allows me an opportunity to get out of my dorm room. I can shake off the stress of the pandemic, school, and every other worry. When I'm playing tennis, I'm not thinking about my busy calendar or midterms; I'm very much in the moment just trying to play as best as I can. Between being on several executive boards for clubs and trying to do well in classes, those blissful moments are not something I get very often but I deeply appreciate them when I do."

RJ Foley IV, Marketing & Communications lead web designer
Hobby: Painting

Photo of RJ Foley IV sitting on his bed working on his colorful wood art paintings in his Brighton home, with completed pieces behind him. Bright geometric shapes are seen on a circular and square piece of wood.
Foley works on his colorful wood art paintings in his Brighton home. Some completed pieces are behind him.

"Since the pandemic, I've taken up painting vibrant color art on wood canvases as gifts for friends, family, and acquaintances closest to me. Painting has helped enrich my life by ultimately making the connections I'm grateful to have even more meaningful in this tumultuous time. It's also been an interesting way for me to exercise my creativity outside of making websites for Boston University's many schools, centers, and programs."

Daniel Spiess, Questrom Feld Center for Industry Alliances industry relations manager

Marc Scatamacchia, BU Research Support associate vice president, industry engagement
Hobby: Oyster shucking and cooking with oysters

Spiess (left), with husband Scatamacchia shucking oysters at their home in Ogunquit, Maine.  

"What was supposed to have been our weekend place in Maine turned into more than that due to the pandemic.," Spiess says. "Given the time we had on our hands, we explored what was around us and the many oyster farms are kind of a natural and safe place to go—a lot of the space they have is outside. We visited Glidden Point Oysters on the Damariscotta River for a couple of dozen oysters to snack on and the server let us know that they don't shuck the oysters for us. Seeing our panic, she calmly said that she would show us and assured us that it's actually fun. She was absolutely correct, and we ended up buying shucking gloves and knives right there. It's been a nice way to focus on something culinarily new to us during the pandemic, since like many people, we had kind of exhausted our recipe repertoire. While we had typically left things like bivalves to the experts, we've gained some expertise about new and different varieties of oysters, oyster farms and vendors along the coast, and recipes for cooking and grilling. Basically, it's tasty and fun." 

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National Review

Schumer: Biden 'Considering' Forgiving $50,000 in Student Loan Debt via Executive Action

President-elect Joe Biden is "considering" forgiving $50,000 in federal student loan debt for low-income and middle class students, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Monday.Schumer held a press conference alongside Democratic Congressmen-elect Ritchie Torres, Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman of New York, during which the group announced they have "come to the conclusion" that Biden can "forgive $50,000 of debt the first day he becomes president.""You don't need Congress, all you need is the flick of a pen and President-elect Biden — then President Biden — can make this happen," Schumer said.> JUST IN: Sen. Chuck Schumer: President-elect Joe Biden is "considering" forgiving $50,000 in federal student loan debt for all borrowers. pic.twitter.com/KS4WNgAb79> > -- The Hill (@thehill) December 7, 2020He added that the group is urging Biden to choose a secretary of education who will support student loan forgiveness because "it's up to the secretary of education officially, but if President Biden wants it, I'm sure it will happen.""This debt is a huge burden on the backs of our students standing in the way of them and their economy and it stays with them for a very long time," he said.He said they are calling on Biden to take executive action to administratively cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for federal student loan borrowers with an income below $125,000, and to do so in a way that the borrowers would have no tax liability when they receive the forgiveness.Schumer said he has spoken to Biden about "how important" the loan forgiveness is and that he is "considering" it.Asked if Biden will have the executive authority to forgive the debt, the New York Senator said the president-elect is researching that and "I believe when he does his research, he will find that he does."When asked what the forgiveness would mean for families who have "made sacrifices to pay off student loans" Schumer said it would be "good for everybody.""Lots of students paid off student loans but it's such a burden it's good for everybody to make sure that this debt is vanquished," he said. "It's never been this high."He added that when he finished college it cost $1,700 but "people can't afford it now."

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