Adapting During COVID-19: Staff Members Reminisce

April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to make adjustments in our daily lives. To remain connected during this time of social distancing, we’re sharing interviews from members of the Texas Biomedical Engineering community. Staff members Margo Cousins and Bobby Knight share about what it's like to work and support students during a pandemic.

Cousins profile 2019 HD1000

Academic Advising Coordinator Margo Cousins is adjusting from working in a bustling advising office to a quieter environment. Her new coworkers include her cats Freddie and Rory. 

What have you noticed in the past few weeks?

I realize how much I enjoy seeing our BME folks in the hallways, and hearing students’ voices and laughs in the advising office while we’re working. I miss our people!

What adjustments have you had to make?

The biggest adjustment initially was setting up a proper office space at home separate from the rest of the main living space so I could “go to work” in the morning, and “leave work” in the evening. This has reduced distractions during the day of noticing chores that I need to do when I “get home from work."

What’s helping you stay positive?

Taking a break from the news every evening to play a game, cook a meal, or organize a cabinet has helped me stay positive. I have Zooms with family and friends in the evenings and on weekends that keeps me feeling connected to my loved ones. I look forward to giving them a hug the next time that’s possible!

What impact has this had on your work?

I’ve always been strongly motivated to provide easily accessible resources to our students that are both thorough and personalized, and I love a technology challenge! Our IT Manager, Jim Pollard,  knows I will early test nearly anything before roll out. I am excited to have this forced opportunity to apply my distance learning training and advising technology strengths in online advising approaches—and the pressure to do it very well is high!

Bobby Knight 667
Building Manager Bobby Knight is one of two essential staff members who alternates working in the now quiet BME Building. 

What have you noticed in the past few weeks?

I have noticed the ability of the department and my co-workers to adapt. I can't imagine a more sudden and drastic disruption, and we've handled it. That happens from top down, but also requires a team that truly takes pride in their work and values the overall good.

The building is quiet and empty. My shoes echo in the hall.

What adjustments have you had to make?

We, my wife and I, have had to figure out homeschooling, elder care, and work schedules. We are fortunate though and have so far managed (knocks on wood).

What’s helping you stay positive?

Reading, and remembering when life was normal. I have been watching movies that have been on the back-burner. I watched Jojo Rabbit this weekend. Great movie. 

What new things are you doing?

We try to make it to the park in the evenings. Also, I spend more time trying to find paper towels. I am learning to use a bidet.

What impact has this had on your work?

I have found value in the human connections we have. I very much value my work family, even if virtually.

 

Read more about how other members of the BME community are coping with COVID-19 and related research activities happening in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.