Serina Combs was supposed to leave for a golf tournament in Hilton Head a day before classes were canceled the following week. She was on spring break then, practicing with the rest of the women’s golf team at the Augusta Country Club.
“At first, I was not surprised by the news because I knew that other schools in the area were doing the same,” Combs said. “But I was not sure what would happen to our golf season.”
Later that same day, the golf tournament she had been practicing for was canceled. After a brief stop in Hilton Head to visit family, Combs made the nine-hour drive home to West Palm Beach, Florida, for an extended spring break. While still on break, Combs found out that she would take classes at home and that her golf season had been canceled.
“I was really looking forward to the season,” Combs said. “I had a great fall season and was looking to carry that momentum into the spring.”
With all of her golf clubs and some of her books, Combs set out to take classes 630 miles away from campus until at least mid-April. Then, she found out she would stay home longer.
“When I heard we were taking online classes for the rest of the year, I definitely understood why,” Combs said. “The world is going through a very unique situation right now; it is not safe for anyone.
“I did feel bad for all the seniors though. I couldn’t imagine having to spend my last semester in college away from my friends.”
Doing Work Away from Campus
The history and political science double major has kept a full schedule with classes, her sorority, and as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Before her school year was interrupted by COVID-19 concerns, Combs also juggled the responsibilities with golf and an internship at the Laurens County Board of Elections & Registration.
“When I am at school, my life is pretty chaotic because I have to go to class in the morning and afternoon and then have golf practice for three hours after,” Combs said.
It’s typically 6:00 when Combs is finished with practice, has showered, and eaten.
“I have my own room at school, so if someone is watching TV or cooking, I can just go into my room and shut my door to get my work done,” Combs said. “Sometimes I will go to Neville or the library, but I prefer my room.”
Combs’ school days look different now. For starters, she does her work in her room at home that she’s had since first grade.
“One of the first things I did when I got home from school was paint my room gray because it has been light pink since, and I thought I needed a bit of a refresh,” Combs said.
Combs keeps her door closed so her parents and sister don’t bother her.
“My 23-year-old sister likes to interrupt me to show me the latest Tiger King memes,” Combs joked.
“My parents understand that I am not on break and that I still have a full schedule of classes. They are good about letting me be during the day so I can get my work done.”
Staying in Touch While Miles Away
While some PC students’ classes meet via Zoom or Google Meet, none of Combs’ current classes are meeting virtually. Instead, Dr. Erin McAdams posts recorded lectures and material before the first scheduled class time of 10:00 on Tuesdays.
“Adjusting for class remotely has been a slight challenge, but I try to get my work done as soon as professors assign it so I don’t fall behind,” Combs said.
Her professors still encourage her and other students to get in touch with them if they have questions or need extra help. The only difference now is that students email their professors or talk with them via Google Meet or Google Chat rather than stopping by their offices.
“In my History Capstone class, we have to write a 20-page research paper, so we frequently have questions,” Combs said. “Dr. Sumner has been very good with answering all of our questions in a timely manner and is allowing us to set up Google Chat calls with her if we need more help.”
Combs has kept up with her responsibilities outside the classroom too. She uses Zoom to meet with her sorority sisters for executive board meetings and chapter meetings.
“Snap Chat and group texts are also a good way to keep in touch with everyone,” Combs said.
Combs also uses Google Meet for her SAAC meetings.
While she likes that technology allows her to continue to take classes and keep up with her extra-curriculars, Combs says she misses the social interaction she’s used to on campus.
“My classes overall are going well, but I miss the social interaction I would have had at school,” Combs said.
“I miss my teammates and coach who I would see everyday at Musgrove Mill. I miss going to our ADPi chapter meetings that were on Sundays in Neville. I miss going to GDH on Tuesdays and Thursdays to eat lunch with my sorority sisters.
“I also miss my roommates, Rylee, Maddie, and Carlee, who I would see and talk to every day. I really just miss all the friendly faces I would see on campus everyday.”
Staying Focused Despite the Changes
Combs says the situation with the pandemic has taught her that things can change in an instant.
“I was on my phone a few months ago when I learned about the coronavirus in Wuhan,” Combs said, “but I guess I did not think it would come to ravage the United States as it has.”
The pandemic hasn’t changed her plans after PC, however. A few months ago Combs decided to go to law school after she graduates next year. She’s still working toward a career in law.
“Dr. McAdams has been very instrumental in that decision and is always offering advice when I need it,” Combs said.
“One day I literally spent an hour in Dr. McAdams’ office, and she was so happy to help me and offer advice, which is one of the best things about PC. All the professors are so personable and are always willing to provide guidance when you need it.”