As students scrambled to find new living arrangements in light of recent campus closures, Hopewell Rogers ’18 DIV ’20 packed up her graduate affiliate housing in Benjamin Franklin College and moved in with her best friend in Hamden, Connecticut.
Rogers has called Yale home since 2014. After graduating with an English degree in 2018, Rogers helped start the Sophomore Counselor Program in Franklin while pursuing her master of arts in religion degree at Yale Divinity School.
Like many others, her life has been turned upside down by COVID-19. Besides having to finish her degree online, she finds herself caring for her friend’s two-year-old during the day and counseling her sophomores remotely — all while being COVID-19-positive.
In the second week of Spring Break, while other students were attempting to cancel return tickets to New Haven, Rogers and her friend were trying to get tested for COVID-19. Her friend had been experiencing symptoms for about a week, and the toddler had shown pretty severe symptoms for four days.
Though they were never officially tested, a doctor reached out on April 1 diagnosing the whole house with COVID-19. On the same day, Rogers began feeling fatigued. She put on her running shoes to go outside, sat down to tie her laces and fell asleep.
“We’re under really strict quarantine,” said Rogers. “We have not been leaving the house except for solo walks. You can’t social distance within a house. The two-year-old doesn’t understand boundaries,” she laughed. “You’ll be napping and he’ll come and put his fingers in your mouth.”
Rogers’ friend is no stranger to having guests stay at her home. She and her husband have often opted to have housemates due to their polar opposite work schedules. In an interview with the News, she said she felt lucky to be quarantined with Rogers. As housemates, they are holding each other accountable for social distancing and making group decisions when it is necessary to leave the house. Of course, this time of working from home also presents unique challenges.
“We’ve found more materials that we can set up as desks than we knew we had,” she said. “We take turns at the one desk the toddler cannot access.”
Though Rogers has been operating at a limited capacity, she is still supporting others through this difficult time. She has kept up with her sophomore counselees by phone and text, and has picked up a volunteer job calling to check up on elderly citizens in New Haven.
To Rogers, her biggest challenge through quarantine is not staying on top of five classes while being ill or doing work while a two-year-old wanders around the house — though those challenges are real. Instead, she finds it to be the difficulty of not seeing her sophomore counselees.
When one of her sophomores called her asking for advice, “Something deep in me came alive,” she explained. “I was like ‘Thanks for letting me be a sophomore counselor again.’”
Rogers’ support and care for her students have not gone unnoticed. In an email correspondence with the News, Hana Galijasevic ’22, one of Rogers’ counselees, wrote that she feels lucky to have Rogers not only as a sophomore counselor but also as a friend. Galijasevic met Rogers in her first year, and she has made it a point to show up to every “duty night” Rogers held before campus closed.
Now in light of COVID-19, Galijasevic finds herself navigating new challenges, including signing a lease for off-campus housing. She has relied on Rogers to help every step of the way.
“I’ve confidently put Hopewell’s number down as my emergency contact,” she said. “She’s been just as available as always for anything I’ve needed since, and that’s made me feel so much more secure than I would’ve otherwise been.”
Georgia Spurrier ’22 noted in an email to the News that Rogers has been her “usual bright and wonderful self” despite their physical distance and has felt incredibly supported by Rogers in both academic and personal conversations. After Spurrier’s summer internship was canceled, Rogers spent over an hour on the phone with her to brainstorm new possibilities for the summer.
As for Rogers’ studies, she feels grateful to her Divinity School professors for scaling back on requirements and checking in with students at the beginning of online class. She feels like the illusion of distance between what she is studying and people’s lived experiences is breaking down. Her class on death and remembrance practices has an eerie relevance now.
Though the days are tiring, she has found joy in baking, and she is establishing healthy habits and learning to ask for help.
“It helps to have a sense of humor about it,” she said. “I gave a massive senior presentation over Zoom last week and the little guy toddled in right at the end.”
Instead of getting frustrated or flustered, she simply picked the toddler up and introduced him to her audience.
Serena Puang | firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is part of a larger series profiling Yale and New Haven community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. To read more, click here.