Alyssa Valverde attends a Student Alumni Association club meeting where she works with the traditions committee. (Photo courtesy of Valverde)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Alyssa Valverde, ‘20, has little time away from heavy workload at Utah State University

Alyssa Valverde, 20, is majoring in early childhood education and deaf education at Utah State University. She is attending classes on Zoom, but she lives with family in Utah, and has attended some extra-curricular in-person activities.

Q: Why did you choose your college?

A: I really, really like the campus a lot. It’s in between mountains and it’s got a nice big open quad. I was drawn to that, but they also had my major. That was a big deal to me, but I also have family out here.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected you this year?

A: I was living with my aunt who had a premature baby so she was really worried about getting COVID-19. It was just a lot of being careful and being cautious. Then, I got a job doing what I wanted to do at daycare/preschool. There, I teach kids sign language and make lesson plans. I have to wear a mask all day, every day. On top of that, I don’t go anywhere and I don’t do anything new. The one place I go to is work, and I actually got COVID-19 there. The quarantine was horrible.

Q: How did COVID-19 affect your interactions back home?

A: My family got COVID-19 and didn’t tell me, but they had a good reason not to. They knew I had finals, and so they didn’t tell me until after I was done. My dad had called me with some bad news, so I thought that he was probably joking. When he said that they had COVID-19 my heart sank. I realized I wasn’t going to go home for Christmas, and it was just horrible. I hated it. I ended up staying at my boyfriend’s house with his family. It was really nice, but it wasn’t my family. It wasn’t like how my Christmas normally is.

Q: How is remote learning working for your classes?

A:  Most of the tests are open note or open book. It’s all pretty easy; nothing’s really difficult. I have a class where we meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and there’s an assignment due every single day. It’s like an algebra class, but it’s frustrating because we’re graded on team assignments where we have to meet on our own time even though we’re all busy college students who work and have different work schedules and different life schedules.

Q: How do you like your classes?

A: I have one class that I really dislike, and I’m surprised I dislike it so much. I have to take math courses for my major that are about teaching. It’s understanding it well enough so that you can teach that to kids. Especially with Common Core, you need to think about math differently than how you were taught because now they’re changing it. I took AP Calc BC my senior year, so when I took the entrance exam, my score was a lot higher than the scores needed for the two courses that I had to take. Most other classes were pretty normal, but that class is frustrating.

Q: How do you feel about the communication between you and your teachers?

A: I feel like it would be a lot easier for me to communicate with my professors if we were in person. Like “Hey, this is a struggle for me, I don’t really understand how to do this problem.” 

It would be easier for me to stay after class and meet with him or something. The problem with Zoom is that it’s difficult for me to remember to email my teachers. A lot of them don’t even know who I am. I told myself I’m going to make it a point to meet all my professors.

Q: How is your first year of college on Zoom?

A: It’s really easy. I’m actually kind of worried for next year. All the quizzes and exams are open book, and I’ll be honest, I really don’t have to study because I just go through my notes before the exams and quizzes. 

Q: How was the transition from Country Day to your college?

A: Country Day is good at communicating. If students have too many tests that day you just let them know and they’ll move it. College does not care. They really do not care. What I realized is that it might be similar to public high schools. I remember seeing Snapchat stories of my classmates from middle and high school, and they have so much homework. That was definitely a struggle for me. Going from a school that was making sure you weren’t overstressed to one that overloads you with work every week.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: I’m usually so exhausted that I just sit there and watch videos. All my free time I’m doing homework or things that are overdue. I’m usually going to school, going to work, coming home and doing homework, sleeping, and then I might take an hour break or so, and then I do homework. I’ve also been working out a lot lately. I’ve been taking walks a lot or doing little workouts in my room so I can do something other than sitting on my bed and doing homework.

Alyssa Valverde poses in front of the Utah State University’s football stadium. (Photo courtesy of Valverde)

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?

A: When I was first applying, there was an application for housing but I just told myself to wait until they gave me the due date. I also didn’t know how to do it. So I didn’t. All of a sudden, they had asked for us to sign up for dorms if we hadn’t already, so I go to try and sign up for it, but they’re full. I was so frustrated because I felt like they should have saved me and emailed me more about it. I was struggling trying to find apartments that were cheap, and I was thinking, how am I going to pay for an apartment? At the time, I didn’t have a job, and I thought I was gonna have to work at a grocery store or McDonald’s or something that I didn’t want. I just ended up living with my aunt who was like 45 minutes away. I mean, it ended up turning out better for me because I ended up getting a job that I really appreciated 

Q: What clubs or social activities did you participate in?

A: When I first got there it bummed me out because I didn’t know anyone at all except my mentor. I eventually asked him how to get more involved, and I joined the Student Alumni Association. I’m a part of the traditions committee. Basically it’s similar to the student council of Country Day but on a bigger scale. We have this thing called true Aggie night where we camp on top of the A, and we kind of help set up for that and help set up homecoming and the like. It’s almost like a party planning committee.

Alyssa Valverde and the Student Alumni Association volunteer at an event to pick up trash along the high way. (Photo courtesy of Valverde)

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2021?

A: I kind of went with the flow for a lot of things and honestly, it seemed to work out. You’ve got to have a plan, but don’t be set on that plan because it’s not gonna happen how you think it will. The only difficult thing here is time management, and I think that at Country Day, a lot of the kids already do other things, so just be prepared to be busy and try to have fun because, you know, you’re only young once.

Utah State University
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— By Kali Wells

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