The Resilience of Mudders

When the pandemic erupted last spring I had the typical worries that most human beings had. However, these were accompanied with profound sadness and anger that my 19-year old daughter was being ejected from her developmental trajectory that was rooted in college experiences – both academic and social.

Mudders are familiar with successes… they were the top of their high school classes; they were accepted to Harvey Mudd College. I knew that resilience was important to my daughter’s development. She had demonstrated it magnificently during her freshman year. She had “hit the wall” – as most Mudders do – and sought out peers and professors to regroup and succeed. She had persevered through the first one and one half semesters of core – in some areas which were not her “favorites”. She had navigated relationships, independence, and the struggles which come with them. But now everything that had become familiar was abruptly suspended on her 19 th birthday. I was disheartened and irritated…”now what?!” I asked myself.

I have learned that it was not my daughter’s resilience that I should be worried about, but rather my worries! She has repeatedly made “lemonade out of lemons”. My job was and is to acknowledge her resilient accomplishments. She has effectively problem-solved and clearly articulated her decision-making processes related to many, continuous hurdles. She adapted to home life, one which was more isolated than pre-pandemic due to stay-at-home orders, instead of dorm life. She navigated emergency-remote learning and long-distance friendships via technology. She persevered through the uncertainty of summer research; she learned how to handle the disappointment of her original summer plans (residence and research) being obliterated and reached out and found new research opportunities. She self-assessed and decided to return to HMC for fall 2020 when her close friends made alternate plans; she knew she wanted campus life and her biology lab. She preserved through the next weeks of uncertainty as LA County cases increased. She made and solidified plans within 20 hours of HMC’s inability to open for fall 2020 with a group of peers in which she only knew one student. She made an outreach to an-almost stranger/HMC sophomore to be his roommate. She boarded a plane on 8-23-2020 to an unknown city, to live in an unfamiliar community (and ended up the first night sleeping alone in an empty (no furniture nor roommate) apartment on top of a pile of yoga mats!) She, and her seven fellow students, have formed a bubble and embraced their “new normal” – as they navigate the last semester of core – “death core”, adjusted to their new surroundings, and have formed a hiking club for their PE credit.

I am sure many Mudd parents have similar stories –some in which their child has demonstrated more resilience and others in which there has been less. Regardless of the amount, it is resilience! I have seen similar posts on our HMC families’ Facebook site. It is wonderful to see/read these stories and know that my experience is not an isolated one. I am a college professor, and I have watched my own students, who typically have numerous environmental and financial obstacles to overcome, persevere in this “covid-world”. I am progressing on my own developmental task as a parent of a young adult, and beginning to worry a little less and appreciate my child’s growth more. I have been able to see and appreciate that she is still on her correct developmental trajectory, it is just on a bumpier and different road that the one my husband and I imagined.

Melissa Lane P23