Hostos student Maria Feliciano spent part of her summer looking into how COVID-19 has impacted her fellow CUNY scholars as part of her Pathways to Student STEM Success (PTS3) internship.

A collaborative program between Lehman College, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College, PTS3 is intended to help increase the number of Latino and low-income students earning a bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by providing resources and enrichment, including intensive academic advisement and support, and research and internship opportunities with faculty.

Maria FelicianoFor her internship, Feliciano collaborated with Bronx Community College Biological Sciences Professor Diane Price to explore how the COVID-19 crisis has affected students, psychologically and academically. As part of their investigation, the Liberal Arts and Sciences major identified, read and applied published research articles to inform and design the survey they issued to CUNY students in August. It included questions concerning individuals’ emotional and behavioral responses at the beginning of the pandemic, and whether they have changed over time. It also inquired about students’ experiences transitioning to distance learning models. Still in the early stages of their investigation, Feliciano and Price have only received a few completed surveys so far. However, Feliciano has already learned a lot. In addition to acquiring hands-on research experience and learning how to write academic papers, she also gained a lot of academic and personal insight.

“I learned that a lot of students became more worried about the future,” Feliciano said of her preliminary findings, adding that some respondents also shared they felt a lot of anxiety about transitioning from in-person to virtual classes. She can relate.

“When I was coming up with research questions, I thought about how I felt during the height of the pandemic and whether I felt any changes within myself,” she explained. “It helped me think of how I was coping with the whole COVID-19 thing. I feel like it did affect me. Academically, it was very different transitioning to online learning. I thought it would be easier to manage, but now I would prefer to go to class in person.”

A single, working parent and non-traditional student, Feliciano sympathizes with students struggling to connect with their courses and classmates during these trying times. She hopes to pass on a lesson Hostos PTS3 coordinator Sasha Ortiz shared with her: No matter the circumstances, your academic experience is what you make of it.

Moreover, Feliciano, who learned about PTS3 through her involvement with Hostos’ College Discovery program, urges fellow students not to be discouraged by any bumps they encounter along their academic journey. Rather, she suggests they take advantage of the many supportive programs and opportunities their school has to offer.

Feliciano is continuing her research with Professor Price this fall, and they plan to publish their findings. She expects to graduate from Hostos in 2021 and hopes to continue her studies at Hunter College.