Bobcats spread joy during pandemic

Student Achievements 

Laura Byerley | May 1, 2020

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Even while following social distancing guidelines, students in Texas State University’s Re-Humanizing Communication course have found ways to connect with others and spread joy.

Inspired by stories of people playing music for their neighbors, leading rooftop workouts and delivering groceries, Department of Communication Studies senior lecturer Michael Burns asked his students to find ways to provide support and connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The entire point of the class is to ‘re-humanize’ communication by finding ways to connect and be vulnerable with other humans,” said Burns. “I could not think of a better way for my students to use their creativity and also practice what we have been learning in the course. My goal is to have my students, pandemic or not, realize that humans are better when we work and support each other. The COVID-19 crisis turned out to be an opportunity to teach this.”

Sarah Theriot, a junior sociology major in the Re-Humanizing Communication course, decided to write letters to nursing homes.

“I had been hearing a lot about nursing homes not allowing visitors and I could only imagine how isolating that would feel,” Theriot said. “So, I decided to write little letters of encouragement to residents in nursing homes near me.”

Amaris Cedillo, a sophomore biology major, helped her cousins adjust to online elementary and high school classes. She created study plans, proofread an essay and answered math and spelling questions. She also taught her 10-year-old cousin to cook an egg. 

“I chose this because we are all adjusting to online platforms and it can be difficult to keep up with work,” Cedillo said. “They felt better and more organized after making calendars of our assignments. I learned to adapt to changes and to help those around me adapt, too.”

Other students, such as Olivia Green, Nia Moffett and Maddie Perez wrote encouraging letters to loved ones. 

Eden Witvoet cooked and delivered meals to people in need.

Preston Perez went grocery shopping for his grandparents and sang from afar to his mother who is an emergency room nurse. 

Bella Coppola hosted Instagram Live concerts, Madeline Henriksen created personalized Spotify playlists and Harrison Webster sent flowers to lift people’s spirits.

“Many of my students wrote that the people they helped, did an act of kindness for, or sent positive messages to cried ‘happy tears’ and many of these people said they wanted to pay it forward and do something kind for someone they knew,” Burns said. “I was really surprised to hear we created a little ripple of kindness and I realized this project was helping more people than we ever imagined it would.”

The University Star also published an article about the Re-Humanizing Communication course on April 14, 2020.



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For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922