CAVIT Second Year Students Weathered the Storm of 2020 and Look Forward to New Experiences This School Year
It feels a little trite to say that 2020 was unprecedented, but it truly was something this generation has never experienced before. Schools shut down and then scrambled to find a way to keep students learning, progressing, and engaging in their education safely. The result for most schools was widespread online learning and virtual classes.
Like many schools throughout the state, Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology (CAVIT) instituted online and hybrid learning for the 2020-2021 school year. Students completed class lectures, homework, and other assignments online, and eventually, students were allowed back on campus in small groups for usually one to two days a week.
CAVIT students that experienced their first year during the COVID-19 pandemic had a different and unique experience. Now that school is back in session—live and in person—a few second-year students spoke about the challenges they faced last year and the experiences they are looking forward to this year.
Haley, a massage therapy student, said that online learning sometimes made it difficult to see what the teacher was demonstrating and get feedback about whether or not they were doing something correctly. She added that taking tests online was particularly challenging. “You’re trained from a young age to sit quietly and take a test,” she says, “When you’re at home, there are so many distractions.” Shelby is in the dental assistant program. She agreed, saying that learning to focus on schoolwork while at home was a challenge.
But beyond getting used to online learning, first-year students faced other challenges as well. For example, CAVIT’s programs are notorious for fun and exciting hands-on learning experiences and group activities. Shelby said it was difficult knowing they were missing out on those things that CAVIT is famous for.
Nova, a veterinary assistant student, also said the most challenging part of last year was missing out on those events and activities. She said, “Before COVID happened, we were told it was going to be amazing, especially with the clinics and stuff—and it was really cool and awesome because we learned a lot through bookwork—but we missed out on the clinics with the community.” However, Nova added, “Now, we’re catching up and getting to have all those cool experiences, so it’s great!”
Ariana, a student in the medical assisting program, said that the limited learning provided they had on campus each week just wasn’t enough to get the hands-on training they wanted. But that wasn’t the most difficult part. Ariana said, “I’m an extrovert, so I love being around people and meeting new people. So not being able to be around everybody and see everyone and have interactions that were definitely really hard for me personally.”
Shelby said, “Although my experience last year was difficult, it definitely taught me a lot about myself as a learner, what I can handle and what I prefer and don’t prefer. It was an eye-opener for me. We had fewer social interactions, but being away for that long actually boosted my confidence in social interactions and communications because I never know when this is going to happen again, and I want to put myself out there and live it up while I can.”
Shelby commented that one of the highlights last year was an online celebration at the end of the first semester. She said, “It was a school-wide Zoom meeting with a jungle theme. All the teachers were dressed up as different animals — I think my teacher was a cheetah or something. They just congratulated us for getting through our first semester, and we played fun games online. That was my favorite part of my first year. That was really fun.”
Now that classes are getting back to normal for the 2021-2022 school year, students are most excited for personal social interactions.
One of the things students missed out on last year and are already enjoying this year is the interactivity between programs. Fridays are special at CAVIT, where students have an opportunity to socialize outside their programs. Nova talked about how the last few Fridays had themes like “CAVIT Gotta’ Have It” and “Nacho Regular School Day.” She said these events foster a sense of community within the whole school.
Shelby also enjoys Fridays at CAVIT. She said, “We get to go to different programs and meet new people, see what they’re learning and try out their equipment.” Shelby enjoys the social aspect especially, saying it’s important to build those skills, especially since she plans to work in the medical field.
Haley said the best part of being back is meeting the rest of her fellow massage therapy classmates, saying, “Now we all get to be together and form a team.” And of course, CAVIT students are looking forward to participating in hands-on learning and experiences. Haley is looking forward to having all of the experiences that first years typically have, such as field trips and group activities.
Nova is excited to have the opportunity to meet and work with the professionals that partner with the veterinary program. Unfortunately, last year the groomer and veterinarian that usually come to give vet students hands-on learning experiences weren’t able to come on campus. She’s also looking forward to the veterinary clinics being open to the community this year.
Shelby is looking forward to clinics, which start for the dental program in October. She mentioned that a dentist will come in on Fridays, and the community can schedule an appointment to have work done like extractions and fillings while the students observe. She said, “That’s what I’m most excited about, to actually have that experience with an actual dentist, being able to assist and hand off instruments.”
Ariana said, “I love that even though last year was really difficult, CAVIT is really trying to make up for it and show us what the school is really about.” Haley said that even though she feels like they missed a big chunk of their year last year, they’ve been able to catch up fast and get back on track. Nova said, “I’m so lucky to have this opportunity at CAVIT. It’s a really good school, and there are certain things that I would have to pay for if I were working on my own. But CAVIT has opportunities like a leadership camp in Pinetop and industry certifications that are for free. I’m so crazy grateful for it. It’s amazing!”