Jose is one of the members of the graduating class to be featured on Today at Elon as a "profile of resilience" for her ability to adapt and succeed in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Nadine Jose ’23, was just beginning to get in the groove of her daily routine at Elon as a first-year student when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early spring 2020.
She had arrived on campus the previous August from Freehold Township, New Jersey, with bright eyes and excitement about immersing herself in the university community. Jose embarked on what she would later call the “typical Elon experience” during her first semester that fall.
“We got to see what the experience was supposed to be,” Jose said. “You know, where you can have fun and have a social life but also have that balance of academics. Where you go to class in person, learn to maintain a schedule, and just have a place to be. I think after that, it became a bit lawless in the sense that all the structure I had begun to adapt to during that first year wasn’t useful anymore.”
But adapt Jose would, as she found success academically and discovered the ability to immerse herself in student life even during such challenging times. In spring 2022, she would be elected student body president and would serve the university during her senior year as head of the Student Government Association.
Jose is a member of the Class of 2023, which arrived on campus in August 2019 preparing to have a “normal” first year of college, only to have the pandemic cause an early departure from campus and a college experience that was disrupted by health and safety protocols, travel restrictions, anxiety about the future, an evolution of the learning environment and constantly changing plans. She is among this year’s graduating seniors to be featured on Today at Elon as “profiles of resilience” for the way they faced the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted to find meaning and success during an uncertain time.
“I think the pandemic taught many of us that stability, regardless of how finite you think it is, isn’t as reliable,” Jose explained. “It taught me that nothing is for certain. You might as well do things that you enjoy, more so than thinking so far into the future that you are sacrificing the current.”
Taking advantage of opportunities
In a matter of days during spring 2020, college students around the country were sent back to their hometowns as lawmakers, public health officials and the entire population began figuring out how to navigate a deadly virus that was taking the country by storm.
For college and university students including those at Elon, the typical college experience was put on hold, as institutions shifted classes to Zoom in what was an unprecedented change at the time. Professors and students alike began learning how to adapt to teaching and learning using remote tools. Like many college students at the time, Jose struggled to hold herself to the same standards as she did during her first semester, especially as a first-year student.
“You sort of go back to the sense of adolescence and childhood that you got a little bit of freedom from your first semester,” Jose said. “You returned home, and you were like, ‘Oh, I’m doing college, but not really!’ I was still obviously interested in school, but it just looked so different than what I envisioned, that certain things I had built kind of dissipated.”
Jose had entered Elon prepared to major in public health and psychology major. As a new college student, she envisioned those majors leading her on a career path she believed would provide her with the most stability long-term. However, Jose said that it didn’t take long after she returned to Elon in fall 2020 for Joshua Troxler, who was teaching in the Cinema and Television Arts program at the time, to realize that she wasn’t studying what she was truly passionate about.
“It was his first semester at Elon, and it was my first semester back as a sophomore and I took his introductory comm class,” Jose explained. “And he was basically like, ‘I don’t think you’re in the right major. I can see that you’re interested in something more creative, and I’m happy to have you during office hours if you want to talk about exploring different avenues.’ He kind of called me out.”
Coming to this realization that she wanted to pursue a bachelors of fine arts in cinema and television arts was an initial position of discomfort for Jose. However, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, she would have never made this major change in the first place. Her experience during the early months of the pandemic empowered her to focus on the opportunities that were at hand and to make sure they were aligned with her long-term goals.
A pathway to SGA
To take charge of the opportunities that were available during the pandemic, Jose joined Elon’s Student Government Association by referral of a friend from her business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. As a sophomore, she was eager to get involved in any way she could and believes that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, she might never have joined.
“I remember my first year, my friend and I went to the org fair, and we saw the SGA table,” Jose said. “We were like, ‘Oh cool! We’ll go to the interest meeting.’ When we showed up to the interest meeting, we left thinking, ‘Oh there’s absolutely no way we’re going to run, that is so out of my depth, never mind, I’m all good.” Jose explained, referring to the thought process of her younger self.
Little did she know that she was beginning a path that would take her to the top leadership role at SGA and would provide her the opportunity to improve the Elon community one day at a time.
“With so many social movements going on in tandem with the pandemic, it really boosted my desire to create smaller bits of change where I was. I think it fostered a lot of my passion and care for improving Elon,” Jose said.
Jose’s involvement across campus would extend beyond SGA. She served as a senior resident assistant, supporting her fellow students as they grappled with living in residence halls during the pandemic, and was student coordinator for the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education.
Determination to succeed
The resilience Jose has demonstrated throughout her time here at Elon stems from years before she ever set foot on campus. Neither of her parents attended college in the United States, which proved challenging for her during the college application process.
“Sometimes my family’s lack of access proved as a bit of a barrier,” Jose explained. “When I was looking at colleges I did it basically on my own, I didn’t always know to look for scholarships. Learning and thinking on my feet and being able to recover pretty quickly I think is a facet to note.”
As far as her definition of resilience goes, Jose doesn’t believe it’s always just the story of one individual, but rather the culmination of a community to achieve a larger goal. For her, she feels that she owes a lot of her experience to her family, friends, and professors who have helped shape who she is today.
“Elon always talks about the constellation of mentors. It’s very much their tagline, and I do believe in it because I really can’t accredit it to one person,” Jose explained. “I’m a hodgepodge of the different organizations and groups at Elon that I’ve been a part of.”
The experience and skillset Jose has adapted throughout her time at SGA and Elon, in general, has allowed her to transition into the role of a mentor herself. She has come full circle and mirrors the qualities of the alumni from SGA she still is still connected to.
“I think a lot of the upperclassmen I encountered in SGA saying, ‘Hey, you made a good point then. You should speak up more,’ that just builds your confidence in so many ways,” Jose explained. “And now I’ve been able to do that with some underclassmen as well and empower them.”
By now serving as a mentoring figure for underclassmen, and as our student body president, Nadine Jose embodies every possible definition of resilience. Although her experience may not have been what she envisioned, she has the pandemic, her constellation of mentors, and hard work, to thank for where she stands today.