As the fall semester winds to a close, it continues to be guided by our response to the global pandemic. While COVID-19 has created challenges, it has also enabled us to connect with our students, alumni, and friends in new and creative ways.
A few weeks ago, I provided a Drake update to alumni across the country during one of our first virtual Let’s DU Lunch events. If you were unable to attend live, I invite you to watch the recording at your own convenience.
We are all affected by this moment in history differently. At Drake we are acutely aware of the impact on our students, who are facing this crisis at a formative time in their lives. I am pleased to share this Q&A with junior Becca Clair as she discusses her life at Drake.
What is your hometown, major, and activities at Drake?
I am from outside of Albany, New York, and I am studying public relations with business and Spanish minors and a women's and gender studies concentration. I am the president of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity, vice president of membership for the Student Alumni Association, and a Peer Mentor/Academic Consultant (PMAC) for first year students.
How did you learn about Drake and what made you decide it was the school for you?
I originally wanted to go into occupational therapy, so found Drake through that program. I came out for the National Alumni Scholarship weekend and met professors Kelly Bruhn and Jennifer Konfrst, JO’96, GR’98, who convinced me that journalism might be a better fit based on my interests and skill set. I decided to attend Drake because I believe college is an opportunity to try new things, including an area of study I had never thought about before, as well as moving to the Midwest. Also, I valued Drake's high standard of education, programs and clubs, and small class sizes with great professors.
What are your plans and aspirations once you graduate? Where do you hope your Drake degree will take you?
I am still undecided about where I want to end up geographically, but most likely in the Midwest for now. I would love to work in advocacy for women's rights and reproductive healthcare. I hope my Drake education and degree will provide me with the skills and confidence to achieve my goals and a vast network of alumni and others who respect the Drake name.
How have you and your friends stayed connected and grown your relationships, under the Drake Together Compact?
My friends and I have taken precautions to get together safely, either going for walks or wearing masks when we're close. I've video chatted with some of my friends who aren't in Des Moines. I think we all can connect through our shared experience, but it has definitely been hard staying in touch as often.
How has the University supported you through this time?
I think the University sharing numbers and their process for containing the spread is really important. Faculty and staff have been great—they really have gone above and beyond to make sure every student is still getting their information and materials. Although it isn't ideal to learn over Zoom, my professors have been working really hard to create a positive environment.
What has been the hardest part about this fall semester? What has been the most enjoyable?
The hardest part has been the lack of connection. Not getting to learn or attend meetings or see friends like normal is hard because that is what college is supposed to be about. The most enjoyable part has been the moments of adaptation: studying in a mask in my favorite places, seeing friends safely, getting creative on Zoom. While not ideal, I am proud of our community for working hard to keep each other safe.
What is this experience teaching you about yourself and how do you think it will shape your future?
This has taught me a lot about what I need in a work environment: I need to get out of the house and be with people. It has also made me focus on taking care of myself and checking in on others. I think in the future I will be more adaptable and thoughtful, as well as grateful for times when we can be together.
What does it mean to you that the Drake community of alumni and friends continue to give generously through all this?
I think it shows how impactful the Drake experience can be. We build a community here and gain more than just education in the classroom. Giving back shows that a piece of Drake stays with all of us, even when we're gone.
Your leadership contributions to The Drake Fund provide remarkable students like Becca with a resilient education that prepares them to overcome current and future challenges. As we enter the holiday season, please know how grateful I am for your generosity and support, especially this year. I hope you are able relax and connect with loved ones, even if your celebrations look different than normal. I also wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2021.
President, Drake University