If one group of people has a handle on learning, it’s college students — and lately, their learning hasn’t been confined to essays in English 101. The pandemic has forced learning to cope with closed campuses and to maintain virtual-only connections to friends or instructors. Mifflin County High School alum Cole Thomas ( Reedsville, PA), a sophomore chemical engineering major at Penn State University at University Park, shares how he’s been affected by the pandemic and why he plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

“The pandemic altered my college experience in ways I never could have imagined. Going from an active learning environment inside the classroom, surrounded by peers, to alone at home, looking into a webcam, hurt my education a bit. Online struggles of connecting with a professor grew harder, and not having classmates to regularly discuss the material with made learning the new information more difficult. Of course, things grew easier over time, and I do feel that I’ve adjusted to virtual learning. But I still believe my education would be greatly improved if classes were in person.

When I become eligible to get the COVID vaccine I will most certainly schedule an appointment. It’s important to get vaccinated to help slow the spread of the virus through herd immunity. I want to get vaccinated so I can feel more confident that I won’t unknowingly pass the virus to close family members or people at my place of employment, specifically my elders.

The virus is becoming more prevalent in our county, and it’s time we get serious about masks, distancing and quarantining. I want to implore people to stop considering scientific research as false information to be feared. Though some people may have apprehensions about getting the vaccine, I believe the benefits outweigh the risks in this situation. Science is only feared when it’s not understood.”

Courtesy Geisinger Lewistown Hospital.