Student and professor participating in class outdoors
By Roanoke College News

Faculty works to connect students with outside world, each other

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the amount of travel and in-person interaction students can have, Roanoke College faculty members are finding ways to bring the world to students virtually.

Take, for instance, Exploring Healthcare, a class taught by Dr. Tim Johann and Adjunct Lecturer Laura Leonard. Johann, professor of chemistry, said that through guest speakers, interactive assignments and the occasionally in-person class taught outdoors, the class is preparing students for when the world returns to normal.

One of the main goals of the class is to get students thinking about themselves and their intended careers in health care so they can start mentally preparing for future job and school applications.

Guest speakers, who meet with students via video chat, include physicians, an occupational therapist, an executive from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, a hospital chaplain, a dentist and others.

Parker Burke ‘24, a student in the course, said the speakers have been eye-opening.

“I have enjoyed learning far more about various different health care fields than I could’ve imagined,” Burke said. “It’s also great to see how many other people have personal experiences that propelled them into the fields they dream of being a part of.”

“It’s great to see how many other people have personal experiences that propelled them into the fields they dream of being a part of.”

Parker Burke '24

The course is very career-oriented. Each student researched a medical profession and gave a presentation on it, and have multiple writing assignments to get them thinking about interviews or personal statements that will one day be part of their applications to graduate school programs.

Kaileigh Roberts ‘24, said the guest speakers have gotten her interested in a career in nursing. She said the professors have done a great job connecting with students despite the fact that almost all of the classes have been online-only.

“They have been open to conversations and have been a true outlet,” Roberts said. “Ms. Leonard has been somebody I can talk to and trust and I respect that.”

Students have had several opportunities to safely speak with Johann and Leonard in person. With the recent sunny, dry and warm weather, they’ve been able to hold the class outdoors.

Students attended in person and via Zoom, working on large charts called brain maps. The charts were intended to help students brainstorm career ideas and develop a greater understanding of their interests.

Roberts wasn’t able to attend the class in person, but said the exercise was helpful both for de-stressing and for organizing her thoughts. Burke was there in person, wearing a mask and seated a safe distance from his classmates.

Despite the precautions in place, Burke said the class was a fun way to interact with others in the course.

“It was a perfect stress reliever,” Burke said, “and I met some of the people in the class more personally than over a Zoom meeting.”