In the wake of the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, several VSU personnel and alumni have shared their pandemic stories in a book released on March 14.
“Who We Are Now: Stories of What Americans Lost and Found During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” written by Michelle Fishburne, is a collection of stories narrating Fishburne’s adventure across the U.S. in an RV to interview different people about their experiences and the things they did to make a difference during the pandemic.
Two alumni from VSU were featured in the book: former Student President Melissa Wolfe and Caleb Dixon, who owns Skӧll Axe Throwing.
Dixon told his story of how axe throwing became a popular pastime over the course of the pandemic.
“Throwing an axe is a pretty good way to relieve a little stress and anger,” Dixon says in an excerpt on the book website. “So I guess it kind of went together pretty well with everything that was going on. I just put that X on that target, and you can get all that frustration out right there, on that board.”
Also in 2020, Melissa Wolfe was taking on the position of student president, which is no small feat, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“My job was to talk with students from all over the country about why they should come to Valdosta State in the middle of a pandemic,” Wolfe was quoted on the book website. “I didn’t know what the fall was going to look like, but I did know that it would still be Valdosta State, whether it was from home or from, as we all hoped, our beautiful campus.”
Also in the book is Sementha Mathews, the executive director of the Turner Center for the Arts.
The website includes extra stories not included in the book from current Head of Admissions Ryan Hogan and VSU professor Dr. Colette Drouillard.
Drouillard created the mask for Fenris, a metal statue that sits outside of Odum Library.
“I had this crazy idea after making several hundred masks, maybe a thousand at that point, that Fenris needed a mask,” Drouillard said. “It got picked up by Jessica, then it got picked up by the Valdosta and Tallahassee news stations, and somewhere in there, Michelle tripped across the picture and contacted me.”
Hogan explained how admissions changed during the pandemic and how the college staff adapted to the sudden change.
“I’ve thought about this a lot and it really was the entire university that came together to enroll this class,” Hogan said in an excerpt on the website. “We made it a priority to ensure students felt heard and seen. We don’t just admit you and say, nice to meet you. Our mission is to create a personalized relationship with our prospective students.”
All of these stories can be found on the book’s website, and more details can be found through the book itself, “Who We Are Now: Stories of What Americans Lost and Found During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Written by Bailey Wilson, Newsletter Editor. Photo courtesy of Dr. Drouillard.