Rider student shares mental health struggles, on-campus job loss, and other challenges caused by the pandemic

By Tatyanna Carman

Junior communication studies major Rikiyah Mixson said the pandemic has caused her to struggle with her mental health and lose her job on campus.

Mixson explained that before coronavirus closed the campus in spring 2020, she worked as an “office assistant” in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Rider.

“I had a job on campus, which I was, so upset that I wasn’t able to complete the year out fully because I love my job,” Mixson said. “And I guess I was impacted because I had no income coming in. And also my parents didn’t want me to work during last year, during this time because of COVID-19.”

She also said that she was afraid for her parents during this time, especially for her mother, who worked at a grocery store.

“When you’re at grocery stores, you’re surrounded with thousands of people, you know, every day, hundreds of people every day and just staying protected, I feel like it was a big issue,” she said.

Mixson shared that there was a period where she did not go outside from March until May. Mixson also mentioned that her mother and father were the only people that left the house. They formed a routine for whenever they would come home from being outside.

“As soon as she came home or if anybody left out the house and came home then we would leave our shoes right by the door, spray them down and the doorknobs, spray them down and hop right in the shower and put our clothes right in the washer,” Mixson said. “That was the routine as soon as we get in the house. Wash your clothes, wash up just to make sure everything was good. Even if we were, exposed to certain people outside, even if we did have our mask on, we still would follow the routine.”

Mixson said her father had diabetes and his underlying condition is one of the reasons why she chose to stay remote for all of her classes and live at home during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

“Usually, I would like to stay on campus, but because of the pandemic, I just felt, for myself and the safety of my family, I definitely wanted to stay home,” she explained. “Because usually, even if I am on campus, some weekends, I will come back home or just go see my little sister and everything. But I just didn’t want to [deal] with all of that. And I decided to do online classes, just for the safety of everyone, even the other students there.”

She said that at the start of the pandemic and sometimes now, she feels sad or depressed. Mixson also said that she was especially saddened by the cancellation of her study abroad in Spain, which was scheduled to occur in the same week that everything shut down.

“I was very depressed,” she said. “I would cry, some nights, just thinking about it, because I’m so emotional at times and because I wasn’t able to see my friends as much, face to face. I was in a relationship [so I] also wasn’t able to see the person I was dealing with. And it was very weird because you get so accustomed to a certain lifestyle that when it’s just taken away from you so fast, it’s hard to handle and on top of that school definitely was the top of the cake.”

Junior public relations major and friend of Mixson, Xyaire Merriweather, said that she could see how the pandemic affected her friend socially and emotionally.

“She’s a bright person and outgoing, and having to be confined within her house for a while,” Merriweather said. “I know her father has an underlying condition. So she was very respectful of his wishes to not have to go in and out of the house and be around too many people. So for a while, she was really isolated.”

Merriweather said that Mixson is a lot more active now.

“I think she still would like to resume back to normal as most of us would and being able to go back to campus,” Merriweather said. “So I think she’s still limited in that sense, but I would say mentally or emotionally, definitely more productive.”

Senior criminal justice major and Mixson’s cousin Taiza Bagley said that Mixson has learned more about herself during the pandemic.

“She’s actually been good, figuring out what to do, and her emotions, everything, how she’s doing with school. At first, it seemed like it was a little hard for her. But now since it’s been about a year, the progress has been good,” Bagley said.

Mixson said that her mental health is improving and has been meeting with a therapist at Rider’s counseling services. She encouraged other people to “find ways to cope with new changes and life itself.”

“If you’re going through anything, definitely focus, or try to reach out to someone to help you with mental health issues,” Mixson said.

Mixson said she was thankful for everything she went through during the pandemic.

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