Duquesne community shares lessons learned from pandemic

Peyton Harris | Staff Writer


One thing I think many of us can agree on: the week of March 12, 2020, was life-changing. Quite suddenly, our lives went from carefree to cautious, lively to chaotic. As students and educators, many changes and sacrifices had to be made to ensure we were able to continue our work as best we could, but it was trying at times. One thing I’ve learned in my first few weeks as a student at Duquesne is that Dukes are resilient. Many of us have come out of quarantine and the recent events of this year stronger.

Following a recent effort by NEXTPittsburgh, I reached out to members of the Duquesne community to see what lessons they have learned and want to share with the community.


“I have learned that making music together is even more fragile and precious than we ever thought possible. It has been so painful to realize that the singing voice, our most innate instrument of expression, can be a spreader of this horrible virus. We have discovered new ways to sing together that no one could have imagined a year ago … We sing on despite all of the incredible challenges we face.”
– Caron Daley
Director of Choral Activities
School of Music

“Because of its pace and isolation, 2020 has made me ‘feel’ every emotion with an intensity that the constant movement of pre-COVID-19 did not afford. The double pandemic, COVID-19 and racial injustice, that is impacting my life and the lives of so many others is a constant reminder of the importance of self-care, relationships and love. None of the important work can be done effectively without these things.”
– Gretchen Givens Generett
Interim Dean
School of Education

“This year required us to meet and overcome bigger challenges than ever before, for which there is no play book … I’m very proud to see the incredible teamwork and determination of our faculty and staff, who continue to create a productive environment in which our students can pursue their education and their college experience. And I’m especially proud of our students, who have risen to the challenge and proven that they can navigate changes and inconvenience to remain safely on campus, putting the collective wellbeing of the Duquesne community first in every way as they address this global pandemic. That will be one of the great, inspirational stories when future generations look back on this moment in Duquesne’s history.”
– Ken Gormley
Duquesne University

“The most important thing I have learned throughout the course of this pandemic is self-reliance. You can have all the friends you want, yet at the end of the day, you’re the person who knows yourself best. You know what is good for you and what isn’t, and being there for yourself is always the healthiest option to live your happiest life, no matter what challenges life throws at you.”
– Karina Cutrona
Freshman psychology major

“Leading, working and interacting with compassion and empathy, as well as being both adaptable and tenacious, have become more important than ever. For the enrollment management team, reinventing traditions via technology, changing some of the things we do to maintain our sense of community virtually, recognizing each other’s efforts and celebrating the wins as we work to enroll the next class at Duquesne are all things we have embraced during this time.”
– Joel Bauman
Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management

“Always take advantage of an opportunity presented to you … Sometimes we are presented opportunities and we may dismiss them thinking they don’t apply, or now is not the right time. Last fall when I enrolled in the faculty teaching online course, I was very busy with data collection of my faculty development grant and did not need the extra work of being a student in an online course. However, I thought now or never and began the course. It was the best decision. I was ready when the university made the decision to transition all online in March 2020. My lesson learned: Always take advantages of opportunities that present.”
– Pamela C. Spigelmyer
Assistant Professor of Nursing

“What I’ve learned from being in this pandemic is to take nothing for granted. Time spent with family, friends, classmates, teachers, etc. should be something that is cherished, not overlooked. This pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health, and I believe it has shown how important it is to reach out, ask for help and receive support from those around you. Even in a dark and depressing time, it’s important to put yourself and your health first and do what you can to not let something, such as a pandemic, bring you down.”
– Katie Carmichael
Freshman nursing major