Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on HHS Alumni and Students

Rolyn Clarke

Rolyn Clarke (HHS’14), works in the ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA, and has been working on the frontlines with COVID-19 patients.

“I work in Atlanta’s busiest hospital with a team of providers and nurses who are completely amazing. I feel like the city came together as a community to fight this epidemic. Various organizations donated lunch so we could worry about taking care of our patients. We are grateful for those who stayed indoors to ensure our hospitals were not overwhelmed. Staying indoors meant that the healthcare workers were not strained in resources and were able to help individuals recover from COVID. I cannot speak for all, but I have only seen COVID recoveries.”

“As an ICU nurse, I am always learning. We work closely with our residents, fellows, and attending and they appreciate our insight. I am grateful to be on the frontlines helping to combat this epidemic.”

Thank you, Rolyn, and all of our nurses and medical heroes, for what you do every day!

Boilermakers keep going, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen this proven again and again.

Pattie Linton, a senior studying financial counseling and planning in the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Division of Consumer Science, was unable to have an in-person internship this summer due to the pandemic, but she was able to participate in a new national externship program developed by the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

“My FPA externship gave me a better understanding of what my future career could entail. I had the opportunity to build investment portfolios, work on estate planning, use planning software and much more. I can put these skills to use in my classes this year and in my future career.

Even though there are negatives, the pandemic has taught me to have patience and to just take things day by day. It also gave me time to relax and set goals for my upcoming senior year.” Good luck to Pattie and to all our #PurdueHHS seniors!

“COVID really challenged me this summer. I’m a camp counselor and still being a part of a camp program while dealing with the challenges of social distancing was difficult, but it provided me with lots of experience in adapting to changes quickly. I’m also starting a doctorate program in occupational therapy in mid-August, and a lot of things had to change with the reopening of schools, which has turned a typically joyful experience to one with extra stressors.

Even with the extra stress, one of the biggest lessons I learned during the pandemic was to slow down and enjoy life for what it is. I had created so much unnecessary stress for myself because I so desperately wanted to get back to the way that life was before. Then, over time I asked myself what I was so ready to get back to and if it was really something I was missing. I hope this provides an opportunity for more people to reflect on their life and make sure they are living up to its best potential.”

Fernando Franco

As an international Purdue student, May graduate Fernando Franco (HHS’20), was affected in a number of ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, including not being able to go back home or enjoy travel before starting a new job. Franco is fortunate to have a job lined up with Oracle where he can work remotely, starting in August.

The pandemic has certainly taught Franco to be flexible with plans. “I am a big planner and love to have life plans figured out at least one year in advance, so having everything (classes, graduation, and now moving and working in person) change was rough at first, but it has allowed me to relax a little and let life take its course. I have no control over all of these things, so I can only control how I react to them,” said Franco.

Chloe Brengman
Photo by: Jackie Durbha

Like many 2020 grads, Chloe Brengman, a May graduate of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences, felt the loss of a traditional Purdue commencement and other senior traditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One thing the pandemic has taught me is that it’s okay to grieve loss. It’s okay to cry and to be upset for a couple of days, but then you also have to learn how to make the best of the situation. My friends and I were quarantined together on campus, so we tried to replicate senior traditions as best as we could. We studied together and finally started the Netflix show we’d been wanting to watch. We also crafted our grad gowns out of garbage bags, and our cap and stole out of paper. Certainly a memorable and sweaty experience!” said Brengman.

“Being an HHS major helped educate me on disparities in our public health systems and some of the issues many of our federal aid programs face. Now the whole country and world has gotten a glimpse. I’m thankful for the base I was given during my time at Purdue, but I have to do more. Boilermakers are lifelong learners. We have to continue to learn and use our unique strengths to fight for change so that the country and the world can be better prepared for the next big crisis. Certainly a huge task, but I know we can “Boiler Up” to the challenge.”

Anna BusenburgBoilermakers are persistent, always willing to tackle the next challenge in pursuit of the next giant leap. Anna Busenburg (HHS’11), a Purdue Nutrition Science alumna, is the epitome of a Boilermaker.

Busenburg moved her family to a new town, started a new, full-time job as a NICU RD (neonatal intensive care unit registered dietician) at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital, and navigated all of this change for herself and her family during the COVID-19 quarantine and stay-at-home order.

Busenburg says the biggest thing this difficult time has taught her is to be flexible. “This has been a huge change, to move my family and then the world shut down. Starting and training at a new job during a pandemic has been a crazy experience, but my new co-workers have been fantastic. I have worked from home and learned so much in new ways that I would have never imagined four months ago. Each week things have changed, and I just had to be willing to adjust expectations and be flexible with new plans,” says Busenburg.

Along with challenges, the pandemic has provided some benefits as well. “I had additional time at home with my family (my husband and two small children). It has been fantastic to see my children grow and embrace change. I have enjoyed that extra family time, and that has been a plus to the quarantine.”