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INTERVIEW: Ms. Pojasek and Franklin on a Quarantined Campus
Alexa McCarren

Melissa Pojasek alongside her trusty golden retreiver are residents of Riverfront Hall, where Pojasek serves as a dorm parent and Franklin is the beloved honorary dorm dog.

Franklin has been a resident of Riverfront Hall for one and a half years, while Pojasek has been a teacher at Baylor for seven years and a dorm parent for three. She teaches Honors English as well as the senior elective, Women’s Literature, which includes some surprise visits from Franklin in class from time to time.

I have been one of the more fortunate students to know her as a teacher and dorm parent for the past three years. During these trying times she is experiencing a new life at Baylor that no one could have imagined several months ago — one without students, classes, and other teachers.  The following interview covers these new experiences and the strange ghost town that is the Baylor campus:

What has Baylor been like without everyone?
"Campus seems to be even quieter than school breaks and summertime. But, I have seen more of the campus kids out playing together, riding bikes, and having fun!”

What have you been doing to keep busy? 
"I love to cook and bake, but don't often have time for it, so I've been trying out new recipes and making favorite dishes that are usually too time consuming to make. To balance out all the good eating, I've been walking around campus a lot with Franklin! I'm on Zoom at least one evening a week for group Zoom calls to stay connected with different groups of friends, colleagues, and family. I've also been revisiting TV shows that are uplifting and make me laugh -- Schitt's Creek and Parks and Recreation are my go-tos.”

What has Franklin been doing to keep busy? 
"Franklin's life is probably more eventful now than before quarantine! He goes on lots of walks and tries to learn new tricks. He loves playing fetch in the lower fields with his dog friends Ladybird (Ms. O'Mara’s dog) and Ani (Mrs. Carpenter’s dog). He will probably be getting frequent baths since he loves cooling off in puddles wherever he can find them. On the less fun side, he'll have surgery soon to remove the non-cancerous but very large lump in his neck that he's had since a baby.”

How have Zoom classes been going for you? 
"Zoom classes can be tough because they just aren't the same as having a face to face conversation, and they require a different kind of planning-- it has been a lot of work to figure out the best way to make them productive and engaging. I really appreciate seeing my students' faces on Zoom, hearing about how things are going for them and their families, and seeing so many students still working so hard despite the circumstances.” 

What has been your greatest challenge since the pandemic started? 
"It's been a challenge to focus on the positive and not let myself get carried away by negative media reports and conjecture about the future at a time when the world is pretty frightening and uncertain. My family is all outside of Tennessee, so it's hard to be far away during something like this. I worry about my parents and siblings, especially my sister and brother in law -- they live in NYC and actually contracted the virus (but have fully recovered!).” 

What do you miss the most? 
"I miss having the Riverfront girls around the dorm!! We love you girls, and it's sad knowing you all won't be around for a few more months."

Is there anything that you’ve learned to appreciate more? 
"As an introvert, I've always appreciated my quiet alone time-- but with so much of it these days, I've grown to appreciate the noise and chaos that students on campus bring!”

What has the dorm parent community been doing during this time? "Dorm parents have been supporting each other by checking in with each other and having responsibly socially distant gatherings to stay connected to the community (bringing children to play in Lupton Circle together, walking dogs around campus together, things like that).”

Is there anything that I missed that you would like to mention? 
"It's been especially hard not being able to celebrate our seniors in the way that they deserve after their years of hard work!”


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