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Community Health senior Briana Aldama discusses COVID and the class of 2021

Students are attending college in a unique environment, and that includes students in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois. The AHS communications staff spoke with AHS seniors about online classes, truncated courses and how COVID-19 changed their expectations. Today, we speak with Briana Aldama, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health.

Q: Why did you pick KCH?

A: I chose it because it aligned well with my occupational therapy career path in a way that would set me up for success.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: Jeanine Bensken taught a course I took and introduced the class to research opportunities. I then took advantage of that and met with her to see my options. I ended up being most interested in her research within the college. I learned a lot from this experience and found that she was great support for me both personally and professionally.

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: I enjoyed most of my community health courses but CHLH 206: Medical Ethics really stood out to me these past 4 years. I think applying your knowledge to really difficult real-life examples is hard to do, but this course really challenged each student to think in a way that allows you to professionally acknowledge what decision will provide the best outcome.

Q: Did you enter KCH knowing your career path, or did KCH help you decide?

A: I did know I wanted to do occupational therapy when entering KCH, however, I feel these courses really allowed me to gain a new perspective in a way that a good occupational therapist should.

Q: What do you hope to do after you graduate?

A: I will be attending Midwestern University to obtain my doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. As of right now, I am keeping an open mind as to which setting I would like to work in after graduation because I find all areas within this field to be integrating in their own ways.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience?

A: My favorite on-campus experience was running from Foellinger to the Kappa Delta house after I opened my sorority bid. It was such a fun experience and was the beginning of the friendships made during this time.

Q: What do you miss most because of the pandemic?

A: I missed the social aspect of college. School can get intense and stressful, so I feel that social support is very important to help get through the tough times. Having people to study with and then hang out with during moments of downtime is very important and helps to keep a healthy balance for students.

Q: What are the biggest changes on campus, pre and during COVID?

A: I would say the courses were the biggest change. Before COVID students would walk to class each day and have a set time to focus on class, as well as get to know the professors well. The campus also provided great study environments that may have not been as available for students at home during this time.

Q: What would you say to recommend KCH to a prospective student?

A: This is a perfect major to get into because I felt it prepared me well for health-related issues across the board and if you are interested in the health field, perhaps these courses can even help pique an interest you didn't even realize you had!

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