Page 8 THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FriDAy, MAy 17, 2024 Making up for lost time, these students fi nd silver lining in fi rst-year challenges Two UMass/Lowell friends from Saugus recall the challenges of getting a college education during pandemic “It was defi nitely lonely,” says staff writer Jill Gambon wrote the following story, which was published by the University on April 30. We have reprinted this article with the permission of UMass Lowell.) By Jill Gambon F lash back to the spring of 2020: It was one cancellation after another for Jake Hogan and Nick Israelson, who were about to graduate from Saugus High School. Long-awaited rites of passage – the senior prom, a class trip to Europe, graduation parties – were scuttled, thanks to COVID-19. Their graduation ceremony took place on the high school football fi eld with everyone spread out 6 feet apart, limited to two guests per graduate. It was hard to muster a celebratory mood. That fall, the high school friends were heading to UMass Lowell together. But they began their fi rst semester as River Hawks living at home, taking online classes. The situation was discouraging. “I was kind of itching to live away, really yearning for that college experience,” says Hogan, an English major with concentrations in journalism and professional writing. Israelson. Both Hogan and Israelson decided to move to campus for the second semester. With COVID restrictions still in place, they lived in rooms by themselves one fl oor apart in Fox Hall. Most classes were online. “It felt very odd. Being thrown into living alone was very jarring, but it gave me independence. And it taught me a lot,” says Hogan. “I’m very glad I did it.” Having a friend living in the same building was helpful for both of them. They could get together outside for coff ee, to toss a football or to venture off (Editor’s Note: UMass Lowell After graduating from Saugus High School in 2020, senior English major Jake Horgan (left) and senior business major Nick Israelson got through a strange start to college together at UMass Lowell. They were among more than 4,500 students who graduated last Saturday (May 11) during the university’s 33rd commencement ceremonies. (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate) campus for a fast-food run. It wasn’t the college experience they were expecting, but they made it work. “We leaned on each other and tried to make it as normal as possible,” says Hogan. When classes resumed in the fall of 2021 with COVID restrictions eased, the pair dug into college life. Now roommates, they made friends through intramural sports, in their classes and in campus clubs. “When we fi rst got back, I was at the Campus Rec Center every day,” says Israelson, a business administration major with concentrations in marketing and management. “I wanted to make up for lost time and meet new people. I was motivated.” Israelson got involved in the Marketing Society and International Business Association and landed a full-time summer internship with ALKU, a recruitment firm based in Andover, Massachusetts, where he continues to work part time. Likewise, Hogan threw himself into campus activities. In a psychology class with Assoc. Prof. Stephanie Block, he CHALLENGES | SEE PAGE 9 Pictured from left to right: UMass Lowell graduates Nick Israelson, of Saugus, Grace Foley, of Wilmington, and Jake Horgan, of Saugus took a break after receiving their diplomas. Foley is Horgan’s cousin. (Courtesy photo to The Saugus Advocate)

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