Allegheny Senior Makes the Most of Her Final Year on Campus

It wasn’t quite the senior year that Kyra Nielsen anticipated, but she is still happy to be among classmates, faculty and familiar surroundings at Allegheny College as she completes her undergraduate education.

Allegheny senior Kyra Nielsen.
Allegheny senior Kyra Nielsen. (Photo by Derek Li)

Nielsen, a psychology major and German minor from Pulaski, New York, will graduate in May 2021. She said she is enthusiastic about her time on campus this semester and glad she made the decision to return to campus for in-person instruction.

“My classes and working on my Senior Comp are keeping me busy,” Nielsen said as the fall 2020 semester was drawing to a close. “I am on the board of one of my favorite clubs and I work for the Admissions Office, so I have some things I can work on. Plus I’ve started going on trips with Allegheny Recreation this semester to places like Boussard Nature Reserve to get some time away from my technology, although now that it is getting cooler out I think I’ll switch from going on hikes to curling up with a good book or watching movies with my roommates.”

Nielsen is involved in a hybrid learning situation, blending in-person classes with virtual classes. “I was joking with my advisor that it is like being a fresh-year student all over again since everything has changed so much,” she said. “I have online classes, and a class I attend in person has the opportunity to join remotely if you are not feeling well with no explanation necessary. The first week or so was different, seeing the desks spread out and tape on the floor to mark where they should be kept in order to maintain social distancing and remembering to grab a disinfectant wipe to clean the desk and anything else that I knew I would touch. But it was so great to be able to actually sit and discuss the readings with my classmates.”

Also, Nielsen said she appreciates that faculty members have shown concern for the health and well-being of students who are on campus. “My professors have been wonderful, but that isn’t surprising knowing the Allegheny faculty,” she said. “They have all been very understanding that this is a hard semester. We are all learning how to work Zoom or Google Meet. They have done their best to make sure that we as students are getting the education we expected from Allegheny while also emphasizing the importance of taking care of ourselves and our mental and physical health. Some teachers have shifted to an asynchronous type of class to give us more space to accomplish the tasks of those classes, while others have tried to keep things as close to normal as possible.”

Nielsen says her free time activities haven’t changed much from her first three years at Allegheny. “I love to get lost in a mystery novel or spend time soaking up as much sun as possible before the snow comes,” she said. “I still hang out with my friends, whether it is movie nights with my roommates in our living room or over Netflix’s Teleparty feature or grabbing dinner and finding a quiet place to eat together. I work with my friends on the board of Dumbledore’s Army to find a way to do our favorite activities in a safer way, including how to play quidditch while maintaining social distance and coming up with new ideas about things we can do to involve the people who join remotely. I also do research into a topic that I find interesting at that particular moment but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a class.”

Nielsen is fulfilling her main goal, which is “to learn not only about the topics I am studying but about the different people I meet and different places and situations that helped to shape who they turned out to be. I am able to see different perspectives that I might not have even realized existed,” she said.

After she graduates, Nielsen said she will continue to explore what she would like to do for a career. “I was thinking about jobs in clinical psychology because that is the most visible part of psychology, but since coming to Allegheny I’ve realized that I am really interested in psycholinguistics and languages. I think I will eventually apply to graduate schools, but I am planning on working as a substitute teacher for a while after graduation to see if that is the route I want to take.”