While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced most classes online this semester, ceramics and psychology double-major Chris Aaron continues to gain hands-on experiences on campus.
The senior from Watseka switched their major to ceramics after previously studying sculpture. After a day of learning both in person and online, Aaron works the closing shift at a local grocery store.
Earlier this month, University Marketing and Communications photographer Michelle Hassel followed Aaron through a typical day in their life as a Redbird.
Chris Aaron starts their day by making breakfast. They make eggs and sausage—one of their go-to meals.
Before heading off to class, Aaron sits down to eat breakfast with their girlfriend Katie Traylor.
“It was definitely a typical morning,” said Aaron. “I get up, eat breakfast, and then go to class.”
Before leaving their apartment, Aaron checks on their pet blue-tongued skink named Q.
“She’s just a really big lizard,” Aaron laughed while introducing Q. “She’s about 5 years old now.”
After leaving their apartment, Aaron embarks on a 15-minute walk to Centennial East.
Aaron’s first class of the day is a ceramics course with Assistant Professor Albion Stafford. The course has been a great refresher for Aaron’s ceramic skills.
“I’ve learned so much this semester,” said Aaron. “I hadn’t taken a ceramics class in two years, so I had to relearn how to do glazing and centering.”
Aaron recently completed their final project—a teapot. They are also proud of teacups, mugs, and jars that they have crafted this semester.
Despite the coronavirus restrictions in place this semester, Aaron is grateful to still have their art classes in-person and feels that their professors have maintained a safe and sanitary environment.
“As far as the art program, we’ve been doing a great job with handling COVID,” said Aaron. “Everything is kept very clean. My professors have given us a lot of grace and they have given us the time that we need to do our projects.”
Aaron also notes that safely being around their classmates has helped the semester feel more typical. “I really enjoy actually being able to go to class,” said Aaron. “I’ve made new friends this semester in my art classes. It’s nice to have that social experience again.”
Following their ceramics class, Aaron returns to their apartment for a Zoom lecture. The course is Introduction to Latina/O Studies taught by Sociology Professor Dr. Maura Toro-Morn.
“It has been really cool, but it’s been a learning curve,” Aaron said of their Zoom experience thus far. “I have two in-person classes, and then I have two online classes. For both my online classes, I have the Zoom meeting and I have asynchronous work.”
After finishing both of their classes for the day, Aaron has a small window to eat dinner before heading to work. Aaron sits down with Traylor for a meal from Portillo’s, having a fish sandwich.
Aaron has worked as a customer service representative at Kroger for about a year and a half. They are sometimes stationed at self-checkout to assist customers, and they also open the store on weekends—responsible for balancing the cash registers, calling in extra workers if necessary, and ensuring that the front end of the store is running smoothly.
Aaron enjoys their job, but they admit that the pandemic has brought challenges.
“Honestly, it’s been hard,” said Aaron. “A lot of people come in, and they’re really grumpy because they don’t want to wear their masks. For the longest time, we couldn’t accept returns, and people would get really angry about that.
“It’s gotten a little bit better recently; I think people are finally coming to terms with the fact that they need to wear their mask just like everyone else is.”
After a long day of class and work, Aaron likes to unwind by taking care of their plants, playing video games, and making art. Aaron emphasizes the importance of students taking care of themselves throughout these stressful times.
“It’s so important to take time for yourself,” said Aaron. “Even though it feels like we’re always home, we never actually sit down and take time for ourselves. It’s so stressful just existing in a pandemic, let alone having to take classes and go to work. Make sure to take care of yourself.”
Apply now for fall 2021.