Maggie Durnin Interviewed by Jordan Fini
Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, I really appreciate it.
Alright, so I am going to begin with questions regarding your life as a student. What year were you in and what were you studying when the pandemic was declared in March 2020?
I was in Grade 12 at the time. I remember being told we would be going on March break for 2 weeks, and then I never went back.
That's what happened to me as well. So you went to Guelph during covid, what was that like?
It was very empty, it was not what I remembered when my mom took me to the campus a couple of years ago.
Were you involved in any extracurriculars on campus?
No, I never really did any extracurriculars in highschool.
Were you working?
Yes I was. My family owns a farm so I was out there everyday taking care of animals and working with crops.
What was it like working on a farm during the pandemic?
There were not many differences. You’re already pretty much working by yourself in a tractor all day so it did not impact the farm at all.
Where were you living?
I was living in a town called Lucknow in Ontario. It is a pretty small town, not a lot of people, I also live in a house that I rented with some of my friends.
How did the initial shut down affect you? Where did you go? What happened to work, extracurriculars and your study?
I remember not being able to see my friends anymore. That part sucked the most. Not being able to socialize with others or seeing my friends. I lost touch with some of them as I could not see them everyday like I was used to. School was cancelled so I did not have to worry about that. Working on the farm was like usual because you are by yourself most of the time anyways.
What did you do in the summer of 2020?
I worked on the farm. My dad was very excited when he found out that me and my sister would be home everyday.
Did you return to school in 2020-2021?
I came to the Ontario Agricultural College during that time.
What was that like?
Empty and boring, there were no parties or pubs to go to, nor were there any people walking around campus as we were all doing online learning.
How did you find on-line learning at the beginning?
It was very difficult. It obviously is not the same compared to being in person. It was hard to pay attention to anything in your room. Like what you said, I would rather be watching netflix or chilling instead of doing school. I actually failed a class because I could not learn what was required compared to if the class was in person.
Did your experience of online learning change over time?
No it did not, Online was boring and I could not pay attention to the class. I am very happy everything is in person now.
What were the most challenging aspects of the pandemic for you?
Not being able to socialize and not being able to talk to my friends. Like I said earlier, I lost touch with some of them because we could not see each other for a while.
Would you say you’re an extrovert?
Somewhat. I do have my introvert moments but I would say I am more of an extrovert.
Yeah that must’ve been tough for you. I am an introvert so I was not impacted by missing out on being social, but I did miss my friends like you have. Were there any aspects of the pandemic life that were good for you?
I was able to focus on myself more. By that, I mean I was able to make changes in my life that best suited me and I was able to find new hobbies.
What was your experience of the omicron outbreak in December 2021 and January 2022?
I don’t really remember this one funny enough. I think I lost track after the 3rd variant. I do remember the campus was a little bit quieter, but it was better than the original outbreak.
If you don’t mind me asking, how did covid 19 impact your friends and family?
My friends were sad that we could not hang out anymore. In regards to my family, we are really close so it was not a big adjustment to make. Like I said earlier, my dad was very happy we were home because he could put us to work. Also, the farm was doing about average.
Looking back, how did the pandemic change your life?
I think I was able to discover myself. I reflected on myself and found new things I'd like to do.
I agree with that, I think every person would say they were able to discover themselves more.
During this year, I did not get residence until the second semester. Did you have to go through something similar? What was the residence like?
The University did not allow people into residence unless they had a special reason to need residence as everything was online. I got residence due to one of these special reasons. I was in one of the South residences. It was very quiet, not a lot of people went out of their dorms.
Alright, that's it for my student life questions, thank you. Now I read you were a president on the Aggie website, so I'd like to ask some questions regarding your job. So, What was your job when the pandemic started?
I never did a typical 9-5, I only worked on the farm.
How about when you got to OAC?
Good question. I ran for Class President in my first year. This means I was in charge of creating events and other things for the school. I actually ended up having to be the Vice President and Secretary all in the same year.
Why did you decide to do that?
Well no one else really applied for the position and I felt like it was needed. Someone had to step up and that person was me. Looking back on it, I would still do it all over again.
How were you able to balance your job while also being a student?
It was very hard. It was also very stressful. Looking back now, I probably would not do it again, but it did teach me things I have used to this day. I am a very schedule oriented person. You may find this to be funny but excel has become my best friend. Before every semester begins, I create a calendar for every project or assignment deadline I have, while also adding when the meetings are for my job and when the parties are.
Did you have any prior experience leading and running things from high school?
Compared to the extent of what I do now, no. However, I was the president of some clubs in high school.
What issues needed to be sorted out at the very beginning? How did your job change?
I think the main issue at the beginning of my job was getting everyone's schedule so we can be on the same page, but also so I can find the best times for meetings. In comparison to how it changed from the beginning to now, I do not have as big of a workload as I used to have. Thankfully, others have run and got elected so now I am the Vice President and only the VP. Also, we do not have to worry about covid restrictions as much as we did before.
When people started returning to campus, how did that change your work? What new measures were put in place to keep people safe? What was the process of making these decisions at your workplace?
I guess things got busier somewhat. We were able to hold more events which was good, but it also led to more planning and work. In regards to measures being put in place, there were not many measures. The process was good. We would hold meetings bi-weekly where we would vote on things or make decisions then.
How did you personally feel about returning to work? Did that change once you were actually back at work?
Truth be told, I was never really gone from it. Things were different from when everything was online, but I felt good when we made the transition in person.
Did the pandemic change your relationship with your job?
No it did not as I was in the pandemic when it began.
Has your job changed since the pandemic has ended? Is it easier or harder?
Yes it has. Everything has gone back to normal so we can hold events and other things like that. I would say it has gotten easier for me as I do not have to do three different things by myself.
That’s about it for the rest of my questions regarding your job. I am going to move on to more personal life questions, mainly regarding your school life and program. So, what is your program?
I am a third year student studying Crop science.
Do you enjoy your program? What is it about?
Yes I do enjoy my program. Basically, I study crops and make sure they are growing properly. I also advise others on how to grow crops and whether things are going well or not.
Is that something you’d like to do in the future?
Did living on a farm and having prior experience help you during your studies and degree?
Yes it did. I know a lot of things that the average person would not, especially those who have not grown up on a farm. I know some people who have not grown on a farm struggle on assignments and other things, but I breezed through them thanks to my experience.
Why did you choose OAC?
I chose OAC because it is one of the only places in Ontario that offered agricultural degrees. I am a third generation Aggie; my mom and my grandpa were both OAC Aggies. She told me about some good stories from OAC and what the campus was like, that is why I came here.
What are your aggie traditions?
We do Aggie week which is our version of homecoming. We do a SFOAC Frosh BBQ which is at someone's house, but the school funds it. We also do other things like the Aggie pub or fun events every now and then.
What is the aggie culture like?
We are a very close community and like to have fun with one another. We also have weekly parties.
Well that is all my questions, thank you for agreeing to do this and teaching me what the Aggie life is like.
Have a good rest of the day.
You too, bye.