1 year later: Montgomery Co. grad optimistic after 1st year of college amid pandemic

A Montgomery County, Maryland, high school graduate reflects on his first year of college in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Amadu Bah)
Amadu Bah
A Montgomery County, Maryland, high school graduate reflects on his first year of college in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Amadu Bah)

Nineteen-year-old Amadu Bah, a graduate of Watkins Mill High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, tends to see the bright side of things. So perhaps it’s appropriate that he’s now a freshman at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

Ask Bah how he feels about living through the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, spending his freshman year in college having to wear a mask and practice social distancing, and he mentions how people have adapted and the development of vaccines.

Come summer, he said, “I think we’ll be at a significantly better place than we are right now.”

Bah admits to having a bout of homesickness during the first semester. Like many college students, he found balancing academics, a social life and part-time work challenging. And there were adjustments to other non-COVID-19 related things, such as the amount of snow the Michigan campus gets.

Amadu Bah graduated form Watkins Mill High School. (Courtesy Amadu Bah)

“For two weeks straight, it would snow like every single day,” Bah said.

But after returning for the second semester, he said everything clicked.

“I definitely feel more at home now,” Bah said.

Despite the constrictions imposed by the pandemic, Bah’s been active academically and socially.

“I’m part of the Black Student Union here, the Philosophy Club, and next year, I’ll be a resident assistant for the hall that I live in right now,” Bah said.

Bah plans to major in philosophy and psychology. In high school, he and some friends founded a club focusing on mental health, and he said he’d like to do the same at college. He’s discussing the possibility with some friends for next year.

If there’s one thing that he finds getting to him, he said it’s wearing masks. Not because of any of the usual complaints of physical discomfort, but because he feels it creates a bit of a social barrier that makes forming connections more challenging.

“There’s just something about wearing a mask that — sometimes, not all the time — makes the connection not as strong, I feel.”

Bah is hoping that he can spend the summer doing research on campus, and he keeps up with news related to the pandemic.

He once again sounds optimistic.

“We’re heading toward the end days of COVID. I think pretty soon, we’ll be able to return to normal,” he said. “Hopefully.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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