Hello! My name is Nicholas Antony and I am a sophomore in LSA and the RC studying Computer Science with a minor in Spanish. This is my “quarantine story,” and I hope that you can learn something from it.
The summer before this past school year, I decided to take the year off from Michigan. I was struggling like many others, and when looking the coming year in the face in the context of COVID, I knew it was going to be a severely compromised experience. For those reasons, I instead decided to take some community college classes to fulfill LSA distribution, two U-M EECS courses in the winter semester for my major prerequisites, and also worked full time to try and make some money to help pay for school.
Doing community college classes and working full-time was definitely a very different experience than my freshman year at Michigan, and I feel extremely privileged and lucky to be able to come back to such an amazing school with such a rich community. Having the experience of balancing 2-3 minimum wage jobs gave me a glimpse into the life of a working adult, and a window into the lives of those who rely on these jobs for a living, often working 60/70+ hours a week just to barely scrape by. It was proof of why receiving a high quality education is so important, and disproving evidence to those that think escaping the minimum wage rat race is easy or straightforward; I have seen first hand that this is nearly impossible for so many individuals because of their legal status or strenuous life circumstances.
Being in Zoom community college classes was an amazing experience, and one that was vastly different to mine at Michigan, both due to the online nature of schooling at the time, and the differences between the two schools in general. I was surrounded by a student body with widely ranging life stories. For example, there were many single mothers working full-time and members of the armed forces, all of whom were strictly there for a high quality, affordable education that was compatible with their lives. I had some incredible professors and received a fantastic education which mapped well to my Michigan requirements.
Looking back on my year, I feel like I underwent an extensive amount of personal growth, having to prioritize my mental health over other things and working and studying with many of the incredible people I met. Learning about their lives and how they were both similar to and different from mine really gave me perspective that I otherwise would have missed out on. Returning to Michigan, I have a newfound appreciation for how privileged we are to go to such an incredible school and have the opportunity to prioritize our education so fully. Additionally, I feel like I approached this year with a new level of maturity and resilience, and a better understanding of what is and isn’t important in our lives.
Throughout this entire experience, I also recognized the importance of purpose, community, and balance, and this is where I have really come to appreciate being in the Residential College.
Coming back home to the EQ and reconnecting with the RC community was a breath of fresh air, and I truly jumped right back into it all without pause. Taking another RC Spanish course for my minor, enrolling in Chinese Instruments and learning to play the erhu, and seeing familiar faces again gave me back an immediate sense of belonging and structure. Being in the RC also beautifully compliments my CS education. There are common misconceptions that being in the RC makes it difficult to be a STEM major, that the intensive language program inhibits your ability to explore new areas, or that if you are in the RC you have to have an RC major. These are all false, and my friends and I are proof of that. On the contrary, I find that being in the RC provides an important balance that many STEM students miss out on. I am able to take really interesting, niche, small classes from incredible faculty where I receive individual attention on a daily basis. This is something that many students in LSA, and those at big schools in general, have a hard time finding. It is such a vibrant, diverse community of students and faculty with a variety of unique identities, backgrounds, and ideas, all in one place. The RC is truly special, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To all of the incredible people I met over the past year and a half, I love you all more than you know and think about you constantly. To my family back home and my RC family here in East Quad, I love and appreciate you every day and am thankful for all of your support in getting me through these difficult, strange times. Here’s to a fantastic year back in Ann Arbor, and forever, Go Blue!
About the author
Nicholas Antony is a sophomore in LSA majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Spanish. He is a proud member of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, is an Instructional Aide for the introductory CS course, EECS 183, and is also working on a UROP project. After he graduates, he is considering attending graduate school and going into education and teaching, but still remains relatively undecided. During his free time, he enjoys playing the piano, playing tennis, watching car videos, and spending time with his friends. He is overjoyed to finally be back on campus after being away for so long, and can’t wait to see what this year has in store for him!