Screen grab from @mc_coronacation. The Instagram account was created by UD senior MC Donovan, who is one of the few students still on campus
While most students were making last-minute travel preparations to return home after the University of Dayton announced the closure of university housing due to the coronavirus, one student made the difficult choice to stay behind; a decision that has left her effectively alone in the student neighborhood during the statewide lockdown.
Mary Catherine (MC) Donovan is a senior from Falls Church, Virginia, studying vocal performance and nonprofit & community leadership.
Donovan had originally planned to travel to Puerto Rico as part of a tour with her choir, University Chorale, but decided to remain on campus once the tour was cancelled.
When she received the email notifying students that the university would be switching to online instruction until at least April 6, she felt that staying on campus was the safest thing to do for her family.
“My dad suffers from multiple medical conditions that make him highly at risk for complications if he contracted COVID-19, and it’s safest for there to be as few people in the house as possible,” she said. “It wasn’t so much of a decision as a necessary safety precaution for his health and well-being.”
Two of Donovan’s roommates remained with her for the first three days after university housing closed. One was waiting for a flight and the other remained due to being on a sports team. However, after those three days, she has been alone in the residence.
For Donovan, the self-quarantine experience in the student neighborhood has been a challenge.
“UD, especially the neighborhood, is usually such a vibrant place filled with life,” she said. “I could never walk anywhere without running into a friend and seeing students out on their porches, but now it’s completely abandoned.”
To cope with the isolation, Donovan decided to create a special Instagram account to document her experience. The account, @mc_coronacation, was first created just for a few close friends.
“People seemed to really enjoy it so I made it public,” she said. “I made the page on Instagram as a joke mainly, and also to keep myself sane.”
As of March 28, the account has 24 posts and 155 followers.
“I’ve always been a big believer in spreading joy whenever and however we can, and I just wanted to make people smile and show that we can make the best of the situation, no matter how hard it is.”
One of Donovan’s favorite parts about posting on the account has been the comments left by followers.
“That’s what’s been really funny to me is the positive feedback from people responding,” she said.
“Honestly I would unfollow every account if it means that this one would forever be active,” said one commenter.
“This insta is the only thing getting me through these dark times,” said another.
As for coursework, keeping up with music classes has added an extra challenge for Donovan.
“The online experience has been a big adjustment. As a musician, so many of our classes are experientially based,” Donovan said. “Our professors have been extremely dedicated in finding innovative ways to keep us engaged and learning, which I am unbelievably grateful for. The music department is like a small family, and the professors are always checking up on us and opening new discussions and topics online.”
Despite the many difficulties, Donovan plans to continue posting on the account to add some lightheartedness to others’ days.
“Our community has gone virtual with people sharing videos, memes, pictures, and FaceTiming nonstop,” she said. “Anything I can do to make people laugh or smile is worth it, and that’s why I wanted to share the experience of my ‘coronacation.’”
An earlier version of this article misstated where Donovan is from