Student return to campus pic
Aleica Johnson, a 23-year-old nursing student, will be among the many seniors returning to campus to finish their collegiate careers. 

It sure has been a long 18 months so welcome back, Tigers. Who would have thought that after leaving for spring break in 2020, most would not return for two and a half semesters? From Zoom classes to a hefty Outlook inbox, adapting to the new way of things took some dedication. With over 20,000 students attending the University of Memphis, fall 2021 was long anticipated. 

Now here we are. After a lot of hoping and questioning, the full opening of campus has been allowed – with extra precautions of course. Things are not completely back to normal, but they sure are closer than what was experienced within the past two semesters. 

Many students are returning to their in-person classes after enduring online learning. However, for some, this is their first go round of face-to-face interactions. 

The Class of 2024 has had quite an interesting collegiate career contrasted with other students. Their freshman year was far from normal. After all, they were forced to endure their first ever moments of college through a computer screen. So, how have the sophomores been adapting to campus life? 

Lamiya Stiger, 19, feels that things are off to a good start. 

“With in person learning I am getting a better understanding of the class. Unlike with Zoom, when there were times where it was hard to understand the professors.” 

But wait, there must be at least one thing they wish they could keep from online classes, right? 

“The only thing that I will miss about taking classes virtually,” said LaResha Gregory, political science major, “is not being able to hop on Zoom a minute before class starts in my pajamas without anyone knowing.” 

Aside from studies, the university’s Welcome Week has returned a number of usual activities. Many of the events which have taken place are aimed to get students engaged and excited to be back on campus.

“They have made sure to include different things for us to do,” said Jaden Harris, a Mississippi native. “The events have been everything I expected them to be. From the petting zoo to the fair rides, they are making sure that we are having fun.” 

While those sophomores’ dreams have finally come true, there is an entire group of students whose time is slowly coming to an end. The seniors at the U of M are gearing up to graduate and were lucky enough to spend their last moments on campus. 

Justin Wellington-Wilson summed up his time at the University of Memphis as a period of growth.

“These four years have been amazing, and I would not trade them or give them back. I met amazing people, made great and beneficial connections, grew as a person, and overall flourished and placed myself into positions I would not have been able to do if I did not attend the university.” 

The communications major is glad to be back on campus but feels that things are not the same. 

“I feel as though campus life is more geared to the freshman and sophomore class and transfer students.” 

Alecia Johnson, 23, reflects on how online learning affected her experience before her senior year. “Being at home and around family helped me adapt to virtual schooling. They kept me very focused and motivated.” 

Like all those who leave the university, Johnson has a lot of memories of her time here. “I will miss going to different sporting events, homecoming festivities, and meeting different people.” 

While there may be a gap in their age, both sophomores and seniors experienced the University of Memphis in similar ways. Seniors seem excited to bookend their careers with in-person learning while freshmen and sophomores experience their first classes in buildings around campus.

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