Kelly Cash '23 writes a sonnet about life as a student during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelly Cash '23 captures student life during the COVID-19 pandemic in a sonnet.
A quaranteen offers hope
Mar 29, 2020, by Staff Writer

For anyone looking for a bright spot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying hardships, anxiety, and isolation, Kelly Cash ’23 shares a sonnet.

From the Diary of a Quaranteen


in the first few days, everyone’s online -

they say it will only be a short while.

class is in our bedrooms; we’re on cloud nine - 

they now say perhaps, this is school’s new style.


the days go by, each longer than the last -

our brains grow crowded. stuck at home, we’re trapped.

my mind grows dull, and my eyes become glassed -

this pathway we’re on is no longer mapped.


one by one, we learn a foreign notion -

aside from our minds, our souls can speak too.

we paint. dance. sing. minds move. There’s motion -

sun melts the gray away, colors burst through.


when the earth hears it can open its door,

people stride outside. let’s see what’s in store.


Cash wrote the sonnet for her Introduction to Literary Studies course with Professor Janet Dean, Ph.D. Students were assigned to write a sonnet, villanelle, or sestina about anything they wanted or to do an analysis of another piece.

A creative person who has “always been into poetry,” Cash got busy working on a sonnet, a 14-line poem that follows a number of formal rhyme schemes and has 10 syllables per line. The lines are arranged into three stanzas of four lines each, ending with a two-line stanza.

Capturing an untraveled path

Coming up with a topic was easy, says Cash, because we’re all striving to live and learn though the COVID-19 pandemic that closed the campus and abruptly ended in-person classes, requiring a switch to online learning.  “We are all on an untraveled path,” she says, “and there’s just so much to write about.”

“Because it’s a sonnet, working with the rhyme scheme and the syllable count was tricky,” she says. “It took a lot to really make it fit, and to keep the same message I wanted it to have.”

Noting that the sonnet “gave me hope,” Professor Dean shared it with colleagues in the English and Cultural Studies Department, which she chairs. That gesture touched Cash, as did the reactions the work received from faculty, which included: “A ray of sunshine” and “There is such a joy to her words!”

Adjusting to distance learning

Cash says the transition from in-person classes to online learning is going pretty well. “The professors are doing a great job," she notes."They are really putting in some huge efforts to make this work and adjusting all of their syllabi to help us. I really appreciate that.”

“I’m taking seven classes, so it’s a little hard to keep myself on track and make sure I am still using the same schedule I was while I was in school,” says Cash, who lives in Burrillville, RI. Comfortable with technology, she says navigating the online part of distance learning has not been a problem.

She does miss laughing, talking, and just hanging with friends and classmates, but they’ve been texting and facetiming to stay connected. 

Inspiring others

A Biology and Psychology double major who is minoring in Professional and Creative Writing and Human Resource Management, Cash aspires to be a high school biology teacher. Inspired by the work of her grandfather and father, both teachers, as well as high school teachers with whom she worked closely, she'd like to return the favor and “be that teacher who was there for me when I was a student.”

Having "From the Diary of a Quaranteen" published, Cash says, “is so exciting.” One of her goals is to publish a poetry collection representing all four years of college, and this, her first published poem, has earned a place of honor in that collection.

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