Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Chapter Shares How They Are Coping with COVID

TAMUK has managed to stay connected while finding neat ways to host events online.

What have you done to ensure that your chapter stays together during COVID?

Our chapter has been staying connected virtually through social media apps like Twitter and GroupMe. In a time like this, it’s important to encourage student involvement in fun activities that can serve as a distraction from the challenges we’ve all faced in these past few months. In addition to virtual activities, we also just check in with each other from time to time and offer each other some words of encouragement!

Have you done any virtual activities in place of in-person ones?

Prior to the pandemic, we planned on-campus activities to celebrate Earth Day. Once our campus closed down for the semester, we were disappointed about the prospect of not being able to share these activities with our school. However, we soon realized that we had a great opportunity to try something new, and with some more planning we created virtual activities that allowed our chapter to remain engaged with the entire campus community. Instead of canceling all of our events, we decided to host a virtual Earth Week on Twitter and Instagram. There was a different theme every day (Recycle Monday, Green Thumb Tuesday, WALL-E (trivia) Wednesday, and Trash Art Thursday) where students submitted pictures on Twitter and Instagram to have a chance at winning prizes. I shared our plan with our university’s Office of Student Activities, and we ended up cohosting Chemists Celebrate Earth Week together. It was a great success!

Have you thought about what you’ll do if your campus remains closed in the fall?

How will you run and maintain the chapter? We are very confident that our new president and vice president, Mauricia Gallegos and Gold James, will do an excellent job of keeping our chapter connected virtually. If the campus remains closed, they plan to continue hosting meetings through Microsoft Teams. Mauricia says, “These meetings will aim to emulate our typical ACS schedule for the semester as best as possible. Some examples of activities we could host are virtual socials to connect with students off-campus, virtual guest speaker presentations to provide insight into research and chemistry-related careers, trivia games, and online student-led presentations about how to get more involved in STEM as an undergraduate.”

How is your faculty advisor helping you?

Our faculty advisor Dr. Mauro Castro has been supportive of us in our virtual activities. He has remained in contact with chapter leaders to make sure that everything is running smoothly with the chapter. With all the uncertainty this pandemic comes with, it is great to have a support system from our advisor and the chemistry department faculty.

What advice would you give chapters who are struggling to keep their clubs active and engaged?

Don’t give up, and don’t be discouraged if there is low attendance in virtual activities at first. When we first planned our virtual Earth Week activities, we were worried that we would be unsuccessful in getting students to participate because of everything else that was going on. If we hadn’t tried at all, we would have missed out on a really successful week that allowed our chapter to forge stronger connections with our campus!
Also, this difficult time will pass. We all have to stick together and be there for each other. If you’ve noticed that one of your members hasn’t been attending your virtual activities or meetings, send them a text to check up on them. They will really appreciate it!