Class of 2024 Thrives

Students Begin College Careers Amid Pandemic
March 8, 2021

KEENE, TEX. – When the Class of 2024 arrived on the Southwestern Adventist University campus in August 2020, they stepped into a university experience unlike previous classes. Due to COVID-19, SWAU had moved classes online the previous semester and was now reopening its campus, with accommodations in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of faculty, staff and students. These included daily temperature checks and screenings, mandatory masks on campus and physically distanced events, in addition to providing online, on-campus and hybrid classes.

While this required adjustments from everyone on campus, students settled into life at SWAU well and became involved in various aspects of the campus experience, from clubs to sports to dorm life. Three freshmen who have felt the positive impact of SWAU are Genesis Santos-Guzman, Esteban Deku and Keith Barrow.

Genesis Santos-Guzman feels SWAU did an excellent job at making accommodations and providing a good experience for students. “I wasn’t able to go to church while I was in Florida and that is one of my favorite things to do. During my first week at SWAU, when someone mentioned there would be church on Sabbath, I was surprised, but it was so well-done. I love going to vespers every week and participating in the spiritual life activities on campus.”

The Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, the location for the weekly Friday Night Vespers programs, reopened its doors for church services when students returned to campus, with a myriad of accommodations in place. There were markers to indicate where people should sit to maintain distance and the building was cleaned between every event.

Esteban Deku participated in intramurals, is treasurer of the Pre-Health Professionals Club and serves on the Student Senate. With masks and daily screenings as part of the norm, Deku felt comfortable participating in a variety of activities and consistently pushing himself to be social.

Keith Barrow, mathematics/secondary education major, can almost always be found at on-campus events. He has a large appreciation for the professors at SWAU, who have been helpful and flexible during this unusual semester. He shares, “SWAU has been a major blessing. It has allowed me to grow as a person. SWAU has given me opportunities to be a leader, to get to know myself better and to put myself out there more. I’m so glad I chose to come to SWAU.”

Each of these students has taken advantage of many of the academic, social and spiritual growth opportunities available on the SWAU campus, and there are more beyond those mentioned.

This time might look different, with masks and daily screenings, as well as smaller events, but that has not limited the number of opportunities available to students at Southwestern Adventist University.

By Brisa Ramirez, Social Media Manager