GATOR CHAMPS: CHRIS SEGUR
Updated: Aug 6
Six weeks, four walls, and two screens. For the most part, those seven words accurately capture my life of quarantine. My tiny residence- complete with its four walls, laptop and iPhone- lies in sparsely populated Northwest PA, a place that naturally lends itself to geographic quarantine.
Six months ago, I would have been staring out the window at Shanghai’s bustling streets, a harsh reminder of how removed I’ve felt from people coping with the coronavirus pandemic at levels I’ll never know.
“Where the hell is my alarm?” I muttered without opening my eyes. My body was already awake despite my phone informing me that I’d be functioning on four hours of sleep. 5:35 AM, almost another hour and a half until my alarm goes off. Plenty of time to ingest two cups of coffee and answer some emails before our 9 o’clock morning video call.
As I jammed the cardboard coffee cup holder to prop open the door for our international student from Mongolia, Arigun. I glanced at my phone. It was 8:40 am and he should be here soon. I knew he’d be functioning on the same amount of sleep, if not less.
Most college students would struggle to get up in time for anything at nine o’clock in the morning, especially on the weekend. This, however, was not any Saturday-- and our international ambassadors -- Arigun, Andrea, Tiaralei, Hanna, and Son-- are not most college students. This was the second Saturday in April when they’d come together for a video call, not to connect with each other, but rather with prospective international students who were considering attending Allegheny this fall.
As soon as Arigun and I logged in, the faces started appearing, many of them familiar. The windows reduced in size, but grew in number. The grid view adjusted from four windows to eight, and then from fifteen to twenty, finally resting on twenty five. Japan, Slovakia, Malaysia, Kenya, Mongolia, China, Jordan, Belgium, Romania, Nepal, South Korea. We all smiled and waved at each other. Eleven countries matched the count from the other weekend.
By the time we had wrapped up the call, it was 10:30 am, thirty minutes longer than planned. No one really cared though. We were creating community. As soon as the call ended, I thought…Damn, I’m really grateful to have them as a team. I hope Allegheny knows how lucky the College is to have these amazing student ambassadors here.
More than anything, I hope Andrea, Arigun, Hanna, Tiaralei, and Son believe in their collective ability to transform not just Allegheny’s international community, but the entire campus community.
The stories that they share make a difference and do more than just provide hope that there is happiness and success to be found at Allegheny. Their stories are, in fact, a promise of the happiness and success to be found at Allegheny. In such a time of uncertainty, this isn’t such a bad promise. These incoming students will find dedicated professors who will take two hours to review problems the night before an exam, or they’ll find that advisor who will instill the self-belief needed to overcome the fear of failure. They’ll find friends who will welcome them into their homes as family when they have nowhere else to go during extended breaks, and they’ll find a sense of community that will allow Allegheny to become home for the next four years.
Six weeks, four walls, and two screens. I’d say zero human connection, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I hope these 90 minutes allowed those prospective students to connect with us and experience Allegheny and its community.
~~ Chris Segur (Senior Assistant Director of Admissions & Coordinator of International Recruitment @ Allegheny College)
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