Checking in with … Carolina Dellepiane, Smith College graduate

  • Carolina Dellepiane. SUBMITTED PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 5/29/2020 8:32:28 AM

Editor’s note: Social distancing means we can’t all be together right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still check in on each other. “Checking in with … ” is a series doing just that. If you have suggestions about who we should feature, please email us at newsroom@gazettenet.com with the series name as the subject line. This interview was completed May 17, the day that Carolina Dellepiane graduated from Smith College.

Interview with Carolina Dellepiane

Other people in your household: Daughter Ava Lee (3)

Where is your hometown? I was born in Argentina, but before coming to Smith I lived in New York City for more than 10 years.

How has the quarantine affected your daily life? I believe the most significant way in which my life has changed comes from the suspension of classes, because my daily routine was centered around attending school. I was a full-time student at Smith as well as a parent, so I relied a lot on structure to organize my limited time efficiently. With all that structure gone now, we had to figure out new ways to keep things working. The first few weeks were tough, but I feel it has gotten better with time.  

A typical day for me consists of waking up as early as 6:30 a.m. with my daughter, having breakfast (usually with “Frozen” running in the background!) and getting ourselves ready to leave for a walk or playtime outside. We have plenty of space to roam around without breaking social distancing rules. I use our lunch time to catch up on emails or, lately, check job postings. After lunch, and while Ava naps, I tried to do some readings or go through my notes from class. 

Most of my classes were in the afternoon so, during this time, I relied on screen time to keep my daughter entertained. Like many other families, our dependency on electronic devices has definitely gone up lately, but when I feel guilty about it, I remind myself that it is temporary. 

How are you getting the things you need? I shop online and do curbside pickup as much as I can, but once a week I shop for fresh goods, always wearing gloves and a face mask. I am very happy with the way local stores have responded to the crisis, especially those that took early steps to protect their employees. I hope this newfound appreciation for essential workers sticks even after the pandemic!

What is hardest for you right now? Leaving aside what I believe are common challenges for everyone (coping with daily news of massive life loss, facing the risk of becoming ill or having someone we love at risk), as a student, the hardest thing was getting used to this new way of learning. I miss the campus environment, the in-person conversations with professors and peers. 

I am also quite sad that we missed out on so many beautiful senior traditions at Smith. I was really looking forward to having my daughter watching her mom walking to get her diploma so, hopefully, we can still have a ceremony whenever it is safe to do so.

What is bringing you relief and happiness right now? Having the unconditional support from my Smith community has brought me so much relief! From my professors being understanding about my new normal and checking in on me to the administration and alumnae finding ways to help us financially. As an immigrant with almost no family in this country, having their love and support has made an enormous difference in the way I navigate this pandemic.   

Spending more time with my daughter is bringing me happiness, too. Taking care of a 3-year-old is a handful for sure, but I think the other side of that is that our bond has deepened.  

Last but not least, the weather is getting warmer, which means key lime pie (my favorite dessert) is back in season. That makes me really happy!

Any good suggestions to offer? I have many friends in New York who always remind me how lucky I am to live in a community like ours, where people are conscious and considerate of others with their actions. 

So, my first suggestion would be to find things to be appreciative of. I believe a grateful state of mind can improve the outlook in every situation.

In terms of getting things done, I think the good old advice of “do one thing at a time” can work wonders right now. Having tons of free time, combined with the anxiety and the uncertainty that has characterized these past few weeks, can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Breaking tasks in small steps, as small as they might need to be doable, has definitely helped me accomplish more.

Any updates since we last spoke? Well, as you can imagine, almost everything I had planned has gotten postponed due to the current situation. Ava and I are still living on campus. Initially, our lease was ending June 30, but the college is extending it given the current situation. But eventually, we plan to move off campus and stay in the area for at least a year while I figure out my graduate school options. With schoolwork behind me, I’ve been able to focus on some of my projects, such as a series of videos with tips and advice for adults who wish to go back to college, especially those belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented in academia. I’ve also graduated with honors! I know this is probably irrelevant, but I did not realize this until after graduation, and it made me really happy.




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