Summer in Quarantine: In Their Own Words

Part 2:

COVID-19 and practicing social distance did not hinder recent Poly grads’ and current students’ drive to make positive changes in the world, enrich their learning, and nurture their creativity. In her interviews, Alexandra Nava-Baltimore ’20 discovered that her peers are eager and motivated to make the most of this unusual summer—and to also find time to relax and enjoy themselves.

In Part 2 of our three-part series, meet Olivia Hurley ’20, Julia Schnipper ’21, Tommy Bennett ’20, Gauri Purohit ’21, and Nina Ryan ’21. Hear what they’re doing to make a difference, what they are grateful for, and what they’ve learned about themselves during this historic period. 

Olivia Hurley ’20

“In quarantine, I learned how fortunate I am to have the family and home and life that they have provided for me,” said Olivia Hurley ’20. “The disparities became very apparent. In addition, I learned that I actually really enjoy staying home and relaxing, which during the school year I really don’t ever do. I’m working for the Census in August. It was supposed to start a few months ago, but was pushed back because of COVID. During the month of June, I was protesting almost every other day from May 29 and I will be continuing anti-racist work all throughout the summer and for the rest of my life as I want to go into some workforce that works to uplift and help underserved communities affected by the environment.”

Julia Schnipper ’21

“This summer I am out of town with my family,” said Julia Schnipper ’21, “which enables us to hike and play tennis throughout the week. I am taking a class with the Neurosurgery Department of Lenox Hill Hospital in which each day we are presented with lectures about neurosurgery, medical innovation and research, and much more. Later in the summer I am doing a course with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about epidemics and pandemics throughout the ages and how the CDC has combated them. I also work in a Tissue Engineering Lab and attend (virtually) weekly lab meetings along with doing various projects for the lab such as reading articles and researching protocols.”

Thomas Bennett ’20

“My plans for the summer look much different than I initially thought they would,” said Tommy Bennett ’20. “So far I have continued to learn how to work in Photoshop, began skateboarding, and have spent plenty of time socially distancing at the beach. I’ve been attending daily virtual workouts with my NY State Ultimate team, which keeps us connected and keeps me relatively sane. I have a 9 -year-old cousin named Juliette whose camp was cancelled due to the pandemic, so my sister, Martha ’17, and I have done our best to hold a pseudo ‘Corona’ camp for her. This involves plenty of bike riding, hoverboarding, TV watching, ices eating and beach going. It may sound easy, but she has far more energy than I expected and was prepared to handle when I took on the task. Even still, I am grateful to have this time with her before I leave for the University of Richmond.”

Gauri Purohit ’21

“From mid-June,”  said Gauri Purohit ’21, “I have been working on editing videos for and managing my mother’s cooking page and channel on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It has been really exciting to finally share my mother’s recipes with so many people, and it is extremely fulfilling to know that we have gained over 30,000 followers on our Facebook page in just a month. I have found that the countless hours spent working together with my parents on cooking, filming, editing, and managing the business page, as well as our collective drive, has served to strengthen our already tight bonds. I have also found the time to read for pleasure and play more music than I was able to before the quarantine. Whereas I was only able to play guitar/ukulele every few weeks before Spring Break, I have found myself playing almost every night, while also exploring the mandolin and generally rediscovering my passion for music and singing.”

“I am also working as a Teacher’s Assistant for Poly’s Service Learning Team and working on an initiative to introduce computer science and coding to younger students, as well as a student-led tutoring program for the summer. I also think it is critical to recognize how necessary it is to be aware of and actively participate in reforming the systematic racism that has been deeply ingrained in this nation’s history since its birth. Like many of my peers, I am making sure that I regularly sign petitions, send emails to elected officials, and refrain from participating in performative activism while still speaking up on social media. I am the financial director of Asian American Youth Alliance (AAYA), a youth organization for high school students in NYC aiming to dismantle racial injustices and microaggressions towards Asian Americans in New York City—the website is coming soon.  It is my hope that with these initiatives and being active in anti-racism efforts that I am doing my part to give back to my community.”

Nina Ryan ’21

“Though I am looking forward to taking some time off after a stressful school year,” said Nina Ryan ’21, “I do have some plans this summer. I have a job staging houses. Outside of work, I plan to spend time with my friends, outdoors, of course, sell some of my old clothing online, and, sadly, work on my college essay and applications. As we are fighting against police brutality and racism, I am devoting much of my time to joining the fight and, on my own, practicing anti-racism. For me, this looks like reading literature, watching movies, and listening to informational podcasts about the Black Lives Matter movement and racism in America, as well as signing petitions, spreading information via social media, attending protests, and donating. Additionally, I am participating as much as I can in conversations facilitated by the Poly administration about discrimination within our school.”

If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here.