As the pandemic of COVID-19 continues, college students and faculty all across the world are continuing to put forth an effort to finish the spring semester the best way they can—despite all the challenges and distractions surrounding them.

The same can be said for the Southeastern community. Faculty members have been working religiously to provide the best support and quality education possible for students through remote instruction to help protect them from the terrible health effects of the pandemic.

One faculty member in the Southeastern community who has been adapting and maintaining positivity throughout this global crisis is Workforce Talent Initiative Technology Recruiting Manager Sandy Summers.

“Prayer and fresh air,” said Sandy. “Focus on the positives.”

Summers has been serving in her manager position since last January, working in the College of Science and Technology’s new Workforce Talent Initiative.

“Our goal is to create a pipeline that connects our students in science and technology to quality job opportunities and address workforce needs in the tech space,” said Sandy.

Because her job role involves career development, she normally spends a lot of time collaborating with the Office of Career Services on campus, often meeting with students and companies there.

“My duties toggle from a student focus to employer focus,” said Sandy. “I work with students to ensure they are “work ready” and prepared to enter the job market. There are a lot of graduates looking for work, so I want to make sure our Southeastern students stand out in a crowd of job applicants,” she said.

From the employer focus perspective, Sandy is responsible for making sure employers are aware of Southeastern students and academic programs that will help students that fit their hiring needs.

“I try to identify new processes / technologies in industry to ensure our students are being exposed to critical knowledge they will need in the workplace,” said Sandy.

As for her adjustment to working from home during the pandemic, Sandy has adapted well from a technological perspective, which could be from her knowledge of technologies and her job to stay up to date on new tools and advancements.

“My new best friends are Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype,” said Sandy. “One of the first webinars I attended when I transitioned to my home office was one hosted by Google with a ton of tools for working from home. As long as I have a way to connect with students and employers, I’m OK,” she said.

One of the other adjustments Sandy has had to deal with is maintaining a balance between work and family life.

“My daughters are home as well and I am trying to keep them on a schedule that includes classwork, chores / life skills, and exercise,” said Sandy. “I have to make sure I’m attentive to their needs, so I have to schedule in breaks to make sure they are OK,” she said.

Sandy shared how her department is continuing to provide students with the same level of quality education and services from home. “Our changes are not significant in my opinion,” she said. “The delivery is a bit different, but the mission is the same. I will say overall it will have a positive impact on our department because we are being forced to embrace technologies we otherwise might not have adopted,” she said.

A lot of reports in terms of education have been written about how COVID-19 will affect education from the student perspective. When it comes to the faculty perspective at Southeastern, Sandy discussed that the pandemic has forced the faculty to level up at a fast pace when it comes to adjusting.

“It’s 2020,” said Sandy. “There are creative solutions to address some of the delivery issues some have described.  It’s just a matter of identifying the issue and adjusting and adapting to it.  It feels like this has been going on forever, but it’s only been a few short weeks. We have accomplished a lot,” she said.

The transition to online learning has been a challenge for some students and even faculty. One concern involving online learning is that some faculty have not had experience teaching online. While some may look at this as a drawback, Sandy disagrees.

“I don’t really see it as a setback,” said Sandy. “It’s a learning curve.  Our faculty have been forced into a new way of doing things very quickly with no guidebook or manual,” she said.

As for universities having huge enforcements of online teaching and the continued use of online resources for faculty, Sandy said that it’s an absolute requirement. “It’s a must,” said Sandy. “Now that we have experienced this crisis, we cannot move forward without preparing ourselves for the next “what if,” she said.

For the impact that the pandemic has created and will have on future semesters, Sandy explained that she continues to believe that everyone will come out stronger with a fresh outlook.

“I feel for those that have been directly impacted by the virus locally and globally,” said Sandy. “I choose not to dwell on the negative and to focus on the positive results of the pandemic. Stronger connections, value of family and friends, self-reflection, self-care, etc. I have faith that this will pass, and we will come out of this with a new and better perspective,” she said.

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