Benedictine College Mission Transformed Quarantine, says Public Radio Report

The Gregorian Fellows leadership program at Benedictine College is designed to train and launch Catholic leaders rooted in their faith and ready to be effective in contemporary society. The work of the Fellows is often featured here on Fridays.

Benedictine College’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship gives students the tools they need to address life’s challenges — even the challenge of quarantining in a global pandemic.

The power of that mission is clear in a report from Kansas News Service, in collaboration with Kansas Public Radio.

When Zach Zimmer, a junior at Benedictine College, woke up one morning with a temperature of 101.5, his roommates were understandably worried, says the report. This was different from the tell-tale symptoms of college stress.

“We knew immediately at that moment that this could be something more serious,” Zimmer told reporter Stephanie Bisaha.

Zimmer, from Englewood, Colo., is a Gregorian Fellow. Zimmer’s roommates immediately began to quarantine, while he completed a COVID-19 test, the result of which was positive. In accordance with Benedictine College’s policy, Zimmer would have to isolate in a hotel off campus.

Initially, isolation was difficult.

“I was lacking in my soul for something,” Zimmer said. “Just the fact that I wasn’t physically talking to people was such an odd experience.”

But the situation did not keep Zach Zimmer down for long. Though video chatting with friends and learning new songs on guitar helped, Zimmer said that what really helped him get through it all was prayer.

“I was able to connect with my creator,” he said. “That was a beautiful experience.”

Community and faith made the difference for Zimmer. For another student featured in the report, it was community and scholarship.

Mary Harpole, another Gregorian Fellow, was just beginning to enjoy her senior year when just four days into the start of classes, one of her roommates tested positive for COVID-19, and they immediately went into quarantine for the next two weeks.

There was the occasional WIFI interruption, and Harpole was no longer getting the personal interaction with professors that is a staple at Benedictine College. Still, Harpole says that she and her roommates supported each other throughout the experience.

“We all did have our moments of, ‘Oh, my goodness, this class is getting frustrating. It’s hard to do this online,’” Harpole said. “And we were really able to be vulnerable with each other.”

The story concludes: “Harpole’s quarantine ended up building her confidence in the school’s handling of the virus. For her, two extra weeks of online classes and staying at her campus house was a good trade for getting back into the classroom — a trade she thinks the other students would be willing to make.”

“The quarantine was hard, but it’s definitely worth it to be on campus,” Harpole said. “And I can see a lot of Benedctine students saying the same thing.”

Read the whole report here.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.