Working from home – COVID-19’s effect on students

As we finish up the year under such unusual circumstances, it still seems strange not to be in Simpkins. Whether it’s everyday activities or special events like English awards night, it’s sad not to be able to see professors and fellow classmates. Several students shared their experiences working from home, including some of their new colleagues… 

Second-year English graduate student Savannah Dupont writes, “Working from home is difficult in many ways. I’m lucky that I already had a fast, reliable computer to use. However, I do have a lot more distractions I have to put aside while working at home. Not only do I have to resist playing Animal Crossing all day, I also have my cat Khali constantly trying to climb on my desk and play. It can be stressful being stuck at home all day, but taking consistent breaks throughout the day to play my favorite game or with my cat help keep me calm and collected.”

Savannah’s home office, feat. Khali climbing on the desk

First-year English graduate student Meghan O’Toole also has cats keeping her company. Meghan writes, “Genowefa (the calico) and Mulder (the black cat) are very serious students.”


First-year grad student and TA Kendrick Keller says, “It’s somewhat rough. I didn’t know how I would miss the TA office. But in reality, I loved having my large desk and window. It was even more fun when my fellow TAs would pop in spontaneously and keep me company. I should probably get a cat or something for that now. I miss Simpkins, but I’m making it work here.”

Kendrick’s desk (bereft of cats)

Whitney Sullivan, a second-year student and administrative coordinator in the University Writing Center, writes, “I miss my WIU family greatly! Working from home has been incredibly difficult. I struggled getting a workspace together as I usually operate from Malpass Library and Simpkins Hall, where I always have plenty of space. Being at home, I’ve had to reorganize my schedule and my limited room to accommodate my chaotic workload. Though a challenge, I found that having the right work environment provides a smoother transition through this solitariness. My furry colleagues have been giving me tons of motivational support and inspiration! Even as they steal my pens and sticky notes, I couldn’t have gotten this far being isolated without them.”

Whitney’s workspace, with Elvis Purresley claiming the chair
Rikku working as secretarial assistant

English grad student Marcus Bailey says, “It’s been quite an adjustment working from home. I miss being able to socialize face to face, and there have been some complications in trying to solve problems without my typical resources. However, it does have its perks like being able to work in my pajamas and not having a far commute to work.”

Another perk: Emma the pup
Marcus’s desk

First-year grad student Maureen Sullivan says, “The hardest part about working from home is not having distinct physical places to separate different types of work. It’s all just turned into sitting in front of the computer all day long, and I miss being able to collaborate and socialize with my classmates in Simpkins and my coworkers at the University Writing Center in Malpass.”

Maureen’s workspace
Do plants count as pets?

Despite the challenges of distance and technical difficulties, we’ve made it to the end of the year. Congratulations to all of the students graduating, and to the students returning next year, we continue to cling to the hope that we will all get to see each other face to face in the fall. What we’ve learned from this experience so far is that we took even the simplest parts of life in Simpkins for granted — and that pets are always the best part of any Zoom meeting.