Destiny Torres 
JRNM 222

Students playing a friendly round of pool at the College Center. Lauren Hoffman | JRNM 151

Students are happy to be back on campus for in-person classes and be off the computer screens at home.  
COVID-19 hit college campuses in Spring 2020, forcing many schools and colleges, including LCCC, to send students home for virtual learning. More than a year after the pandemic, LCCC has opened all campuses, bringing students old and new together.
Jacob Ludwig, a new student on campus, is excited to be on campus.
“Learning in-person is extremely helpful and better than learning online,” Ludwig said. “There are not as many distractions, and for me being in a set system is easier to learn.”
Though technology helps people connect with each other more than ever, virtual learning makes it difficult for students to interact and socialize with their peers.
“Meeting new people is my biggest excitement this school year,” Ludwig said, “Being able to have an actual human connection is the biggest difference between online learning and in-person classes”
Margo Solis was a senior in high school when COVID-19 hit, and many restrictions were imposed.
“I love the feeling of the campus,” Solis said. “It has a welcoming feeling to it, and I’m excited to explore it more.”
LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., said in a statement, “As we welcome students back to campus today, I am filled with excitement and hope for the future. Despite the challenges of the past year, LCCC and University Partnership students have chosen to focus on what they can control – their education and their future. Our students are taking steps toward launching the careers of their dreams and you, our phenomenal faculty and staff, are here to help them each step of the way.”
“The start of a new semester to me always symbolizes students’ commitment to creating a brighter future for themselves. Having the ability and opportunity for students to be back in person if they choose to be, there’s a certain synergy that comes with that. “When the pandemic began, I was very focused on three guiding priorities, the three S’s. The first being safety, the second being our operation stability, and the third being student success. So that safety has been at the forefront of all of our planning and implementation the past 18  months, and it will continue to be a guide going forward. 
“My message to students is to keep positive and stay committed. I’ve heard people say that you have to go through darkness to grow into the light, and I’m so encouraged by our students’ commitment to their futures. 

Anthony LaRosa contributes to the report.