TCOM 486 Feature Writing student article on: Gabrielle Smith

Written by Lucky Sisouvong

Preparing a course to be offered online takes months of planning and development. However, this past spring the campus was shut down due to COVID-19 and classes needed to be moved online as soon as possible, leaving faculty and staff scrambling to find a way to support students while also being able to maintain a quality educational experience. Students in Professor Chris Demaske’s TCOM 486 Feature Writing class interviewed some of those faculty and staff to see how the transition went for them and what they learned through the entire process.

Back home in Lacey, Washington, Gabriel Smith, 22, sits in his homemade office where he does his school and regular work. Behind him is his colorful gaming PC, which he built himself, and his dual screen monitors where Adobe Premiere Pro occupies one screen, while work emails and school work occupy the other. 

As a student and an employee at the University of Washington Tacoma, Smith has felt the effects of COVID-19 on both positions. Smith is a senior at UWT and works in the admissions office as a Campus Ambassador. Before the school made the call to go online, Smith was clocking in about 15 hours a week giving tours to incoming freshmen and taking calls in the admissions office. Now, Smith says he is only working a minimum of one hour. 

“It’s been tough financially because my hours are all over the place,” Smith said. “Last week, I only worked one hour, but the week before that I worked five. So it just all depends on what is needed.”

Smith has been working with UWT to give virtual tours of the campus as well as editing videos for events that had to be canceled due to the pandemic. For Smith, the work he now does online is something that may benefit him in the future.

As an adolescent growing up, Smith found a passion for shooting videos and editing them. Throughout high school Smith was involved in video production classes where he first learned how to use a DSLR camera and Adobe Premiere Pro. So, when UWT asked him to be a part of the video editing process for the canceled school events, Smith was all in. 

“Even though I am not getting as many hours as I used to, at least I still get to do something that I enjoy,” he said. “Video editing is something I always have fun with so I am glad that the school asked me if I wanted to help out with it.” 

As a senior getting ready to graduate this Spring, Smith hopes that his experience working in the admissions office, as well as experience editing videos for the school, will help him find a job post-graduation. But for now, Smith is self-isolating and working from home just like the majority of people.