Adapt. Pivot. Plan B.

Resilience. Perseverance. Resolve.

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, even our vocabulary has changed in response to plans and progress disrupted by the coronavirus. In this series of three, in their own words, Wilson College of Textiles graduates and students share their stories of bouncing forward during this unprecedented time. 


A New Routine | Onward Series Part 2

By Leeman Smith ’22 

(Smith, a junior, is pursuing a B.S. degree in fashion and textile design with a concentration in textile design.)

Back in March when NC State first announced that it would be extending spring break and that students would not be returning to classes, I was shocked. There had been a lot of talk about the novel coronavirus but no one was sure of what was really going on or how it would affect us up until this time. Soon after NC State shared this news, a large majority of the people I know ended up leaving Raleigh and moving back home with their parents — and time seemed to stand still for a little while.  

Unlike a lot of my friends who ended up having to leave their on-campus housing, my roommate and I chose to stay at our house in Raleigh. I remember feeling confused and conflicted because all of a sudden everyone was gone and everything but the grocery stores seemed to be closing. It was also unclear just what was happening because no one really knew how serious the virus was and what it could do to those exposed to it .  

When classes resumed after the extended spring break, things were very different. As a fashion and textile design student concentrating in textile design, my classes were centered on working with my professors and the different labs and technologies available at the Wilson College to create different projects. In a typical class before the novel coronavirus emerged, I often found myself working on projects in the digital printing lab or working on spinning yarn in the open-end spinning lab. But afterwards, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was no longer possible: my classes became online Zoom meetings every morning.   

Even so, my professors were hard at work trying to make sure that we could resume our learning and still gain a lot of experience from this semester. They received a grant from Cotton Incorporated that they then used to purchase supplies for everyone in my concentration — and sent the supplies to each of us at our homes. I ended up receiving embroidery thread and hoops, different fabrics, dyes, macrame cord and all sorts of things that my professors then used to develop new projects that allowed us to continue to explore and learn.

The semester progressed and soon I had a new routine and a new love for learning how to create projects with the materials available to me. I used a lot of my free time to work on personal art projects, I began crafting different things like dream catchers and I started an art wall in my kitchen! I also started riding my bike to a park near my house to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. I also started learning how to cook with the time I had in quarantine. Once I got used to the new routine, the semester flew by and I ended it with some of the best grades I’ve received in college thus far.

Although this was not how I expected or was hoping for the end of my sophomore year to turn out, I did learn and gain a lot from the time I had in quarantine. I found time to do things that really matter to me. I was able to spend more time with people that I care for – and I learned a lot about myself and my ability to work through such a strange experience. 


Update (August 26)

As I begin my junior year, I will draw upon the knowledge and self-awareness I gained last semester even more. 

This past week, NC State made the decision to resume online classes for undergraduate students only. Up until this announcement, both of the textile design classes I am enrolled in were in-person due to our small class size and the need to work in the labs using equipment that the Wilson College of Textiles provides. While this news was not surprising, it was nonetheless disappointing: I am losing a lot of the experience that I will most likely only receive during my time as a student at NC State. As a textile design student during a typical junior year fall semester, I would be spending my time weaving different projects on the dobby looms as well as programming different knit projects using special design software with the computers on campus. Instead, I am now going to be at home without access to these resources, though I have great professors who are working hard to make sure that I will still gain knowledge and experience during this challenging period. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very scary and confusing time for all of us to navigate, and I empathize deeply with those who have been negatively affected. I hope that in the near future our world can continue to move forward with what has been happening and that we can create a new and better tomorrow that can help ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy.