Being an Arts major, I don’t hear much about departments in the Sciences. To get the low down on how COVID may be affecting those in Bachelor of Science programs, I went straight to the person whom I know to be one of the brightest science guys around – Aaron Mason. Aaron grew up in the small village of Charlos Cove, and attended High School at Guysborough Academy alongside yours truly. Aaron and I have not kept in touch since the Pandemic began, so it was great to catch up and hear his perspective on things.
Aaron notes: “this pandemic has been a wild ride for me, and for everyone.” He recalls that the abrupt conclusion at the end of last year came at a particularly busy point in his academic life, although he stresses that the abrupt switch to online was made easier because his professors were able to adapt quickly enough to allow him enough time to finish assignments and take exams. He considers himself having been “lucky to be put in that position” to succeed. As an extrovert, Aaron has found it difficult not be able to see his friends. “The initial quarantine was hard,” he observes, “you couldn’t just spontaneously go out with friends, so in that sense it was difficult.”
As for what he is doing this summer in light of the pandemic, Aaron says he tried many different things to try to keep busy, including learning an instrument and taking the time to self-reflect. With remarkable honestly, Aaron added, however, that it was important to emphasize that the instrument lessons did not go well, and that he will be leaving that to people with patience. Currently, you can find him creating videos and programming for X-Chem outreach.
Aaron says that maneuvering through the pandemic for X-Chem has been different but not unmanageable. The group has come up with ways to continue to deliver its programming while practicing social distancing. Aaron explains:
“X-Chem isn’t having in-person camps on campus, however we will be doing camps in rural communities like Guysborough, Inverness, and Chapel Hill. SchoolsPlus has been working with the communities in order to take applications for the kids who want to attend, although unfortunately only 7-8 students can attend each camp. As well, we are doing small workshops at the library, preparing take home activity kits and we are doing a series of Youtube Live Videos. It has been difficult maneuvering through all the obstacles in front of us, but the team has been doing a great job!”
Aaron feels that in general the chemistry department has been very supportive academically. He stresses that all the professors and lab instructors are amazing people, and that those connections will influence him going forward. Aaron mentioned two chemistry profs at X in particular who have influenced him most:
“Dr. Cormier and Dr. Marangoni, or James and Gerry as I like to call them, have been my favorites. Both of them are extremely dedicated and talented chemists and teachers. They’ve both left lasting impacts on me and have influenced how I want to represent my time here at St.FX”.
When asked what his plans are for next year, Aaron says that his course load will involve a mixture of online and in-person classes. Aaron’s plan was always to come back. As a Chemistry student, he suggests, it would be difficult to have his labs online. If the university did not offer in-person labs, Aaron notes that it would have probably taken longer than the four years to finish his degree. All of his required classes have been offered in-person, and most of his electives online.
Speaking of our impending graduation from St.FX, which seems to be approaching very quickly, Aaron notes that he cannot wait to put on the X-Ring. Aaron hopes that the COVID regulations will not impede our X-perience, as the coveted X-Ring Ceremony is much anticipated by all graduates. He jokes: “Ah yes, one ring to rule them all.” Aaron says that he will be proud to wear the X-Ring as a symbol of all the hard work he has put in over the last four years, and for him it will represent the people he met and the many memories he has made here. I look forward to being able to show off our X-Rings with Aaron in the near future.
Photo by: Tailgate Photography