During difficult times, one can either inactively wait for the situation to pass or adapt and overcome the challenges presented, creating a positive influence in not only their own life but in the lives of others. Across the board Southeastern faculty, staff, and students have been meeting the sweeping challenges created by COVID-19 head-on. One of these many members of our Southeastern community who has been adapting to the situation is Erin Rode-Fiorello, instructor and undergraduate coordinator for the General Studies Program.
Like others Erin is currently working from home, meshing the determination to work as hard as possible to meet the needs of students with taking care of two boys while her husband continues to work outside of the home as an essential employee. For Erin, who has online instruction experience and was already teaching some online courses, the most difficult part of needing to go remote has been the transition to working from home. “I enjoy being on campus and being in the community-like work environment that is Southeastern’s campus. Now my ‘co-workers’ are my two boys, Sawyer (five years old) and Parker (two years old), which makes for a totally different if not sometimes loud and distracting work environment,” she said.
To overcome this challenge that many parents now find themselves facing, Erin said that she created a new daily routine. “It includes things like a nature walk in the morning so we all can get some fresh air and a nap time for the boys so that I can work without being interrupted every five minutes. I also check my email throughout the day so I do not miss any important messages as well as wake up early and stay up late as needed to complete my work tasks.”
While creating a routine has been very helpful, Erin has found that incorporating some flexibility and remembering to focus on the bigger picture has also become an important part of achieving success during this difficult time. “To be honest, I’ve had a couple of truly overwhelming moments,” she explained. “That is hard for me to admit because my Type A personality doesn’t like anything less than perfection, but I keep reminding myself this is the perfect time to remember that we are not perfect and I need focus on what I can control instead of the things that are out of my control. I’ve also made a point to find the positive and treasured moments each day. My boys, at this young age, are so eager to learn and experience everything. Our world may be limited to our house and the yard around it, but the adventures are boundless and I’ve surprised myself with how flexible I can be when something comes up that wasn’t in the plan for the day. I’m learning more about how to let go and go with the flow while still maintaining a routine.”
Witnessing how others throughout our Lion Family have come together during this time has also particularly made an impact on Erin, who is additionally not only an alumna but has been a part of the Southeastern community since attending summer camp on campus as a child. “I have noticed students, faculty, and staff responding with grace, understanding, flexibility, and kindness. This is one of the many reasons I love Southeastern so much,” she said. “I’ve witnessed amazing changes and growth that all universities experience, but at the heart of our University is the community and family that is Southeastern. The support and help that is given to each other through whatever may come our way, be it 9/11, a hurricane, a flood, or Covid-19, we get through it together.”