Bryant University students on computer video screens
A loyal group of Class of 2020 friends have taken their weekly lunches online to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping the connection: Physical distancing can’t stop this Bryant student lunchtime ritual
Apr 10, 2020, by Staff Writer

As Mikayla Nogueira ’20 said in her recent blog post, “Bryant University Bulldogs are known for their spirit and sense of community.” And perhaps never more than now, when, facing the perils of the COVID-19 global pandemic, students are sequestered at home, unable to walk from class to class or attend normal co-curricular or social activities. 

But the situation hasn’t stopped resolute Bulldogs from staying connected. 

Communication major Hayley Berry ’20 and a group of classmate friends have met in Salmanson Dining Hall for lunch every Wednesday since their freshman year. When the coronavirus pandemic forced them to return home, they realized they didn’t need to sacrifice one of their favorite activities, and quickly adapted to having their lunches together online. 

"It honestly means everything. Although it’s not the ideal situation, we are so lucky to have access to programs and technologies that allow us to stay as connected as we are."

Though having the last few months of their senior year effectively cancelled has been a terrible disappointment to them, they say they appreciate being able to stay connected with familiar faces and conversations. It helps Actuarial Mathematics major Katelyn Nicholson ’20 keep her sense of sanity, she says. “The one thing I miss the most about being at Bryant is seeing my friends and making memories with them. The hardest struggle of being at home is not having my normal routine, so still being able to connect with my friends has helped with this a lot.” 

Jenna Bonasoni ’20, a Marketing and Applied Analytics major, agrees. “Although it’s not the same as our in-person hangouts, our virtual get-togethers bring me so much joy. Being in quarantine at home, I can only really talk to my parents, so having the opportunity to connect with all my friends is something I really value.”

"Although it’s not the same as our in-person hangouts, our virtual get-togethers bring me so much joy."

The topics of conversation are what you might expect, according to Guy Sarubbi ’20, who has a double concentration in Information Systems and Applied Statistics, but it’s the relationship among the group of friends that makes it so important. “We have been talking about our experience adjusting to doing our classes online, plans for the future, like getting together when the craziness calms down and attending alumni weekend, and of course, some of the old conversation that makes our friend group special.”

The topics "can be as simple as just talking about our day, or hosting an intervention to address a problem within the group,” says Thomas Behr ’20, who is pursuing a double concentration in Accounting and Project Management. “No matter the conversation, you can always count on strong personalities, opinions, and a range of emotions!”

“It honestly means everything,” says Berry of their virtual lunches. “There’s such a different dynamic from texting in a group chat to being able to see everyone to connect their voice with their face. Although it’s not the ideal situation, we are so lucky to have access to programs and technologies that allow us to stay as connected as we are."

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