When Maurice Lopez-Soliz pondered life at Harrisburg University, he imagined moving into a dorm, meeting new people, and exploring everything Pennsylvania’s capital city had to offer.
COVID-19 had other plans for the first-year Biotechnology major, however, as the University was forced to move courses online as the coronavirus swept across the U.S.
“I would think about attending my very first college classes in person. I would think about all the different locations I’d be able to do my homework in, like my dorm, the library, or a nice-looking corner,” Lopez-Soliz said. “I would think about walking in Strawberry Square and going to the Student Union. It was very much the “freshman experience” that would replay over and over again in my head.”
Even if the Manassas, Virginia resident isn’t able to live out the freshman experience of his dreams, Lopez-Soliz knows the changes are temporary and said he appreciates HU’s seamless transition to online learning and the efforts the University has made to make life as normal as possible for students.
Canvas, the learning management system used by HU, is structured in a neat and organized way, he said, noting that It shows students what they need to complete during the week, while giving them the opportunity to work ahead. HU also utilizes Adobe Connect and Microsoft Teams stream lectures, provide office hours, and any sort of informational meeting to replace in-person instruction, which Lopez-Soliz said has helped him tremendously as he attends classes from home.
Plus, HU’s Student Services and Student Life teams continues to introduce new, virtual student resources to provide students with the same connections and tools they had at their disposal prior to campus closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Student life is always reaching out and informing me whenever there’s events going on, career activities, or guest speakers. They do a great job at making sure I am still informed and involved in HU’s community despite not being on campus. Faculty mentors are always available in case you need to talk to them about something or need advice. Student success coordinators have helped me with registering for classes and making sure I take all the courses necessary in order to graduate,” he said. “Overall, I think HU did a great job at providing students with the tools and programs necessary to learn virtually.”
There also are some advantages to attending classes online, Lopez-Soliz noted. For example, since he still lives at home, he can continue working a full-time job. And due to the nature of his job, he can attend classes and complete homework while he works.
“At one point I even got an additional part-time job in order to make a little bit more money. Virtual learning works out for me because I can attend my classes and complete my schoolwork either at home or at work while also working and saving money for whenever in-person learning resumes,” he said.
And Lopez-Soliz is looking forward to attending his first in-person classes at HU and experiencing the things he said initially attracted him to the University in the first place.
“What really sold me about HU was the emphasis on applying knowledge and gaining experience in the real world. It really amazed me to hear that by the time I graduate from HU I would have two projects and an internship under my belt,” he said. “It really gives me high hopes for my future knowing that HU will provide that experience for me and put me ahead of the curve. I also really like HU’s location and its relatively small campus makes it feel more like a community and gives me the opportunity to explore different restaurants, attractions, and anything the city has to offer.”
ABOUT HARRISBURG UNIVERSITY
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology, and math fields to a diverse student body. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email, Connect@HarrisburgU.edu.