Student and Faculty Stories during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

The first day of class was comically bad, but I think it’ll get better—Ashley Lavizadeh 

With a global pandemic forcing Americans to shelter-in-place and class going online-only, Spring 2020 could be the most challenging quarter Banana Slug engineers have ever faced. Scroll down to read their stories. If you'd like to contribute, please email

Ashley Lavizadeh, '20CS
Ashley Lavizadeh

Last week was my 22nd birthday. I had a party online. A Zoom birthday party. I play a game called Animal Crossing and my friends gave me in-game gifts. We've been visiting one another’s islands a lot.

Babak Farahmand, '20CS
Babak Farahmand

I think about my personal history a lot these days. I remind myself of what I’ve been through: Four years ago I didn’t speak English. I fled my motherland, went from living in a church and being homeless to graduating from one of the best university systems in the world with a degree in computer science. There’s a lot on my mind these days, but I’m really excited for what comes next. I’m about to graduate!

Maryam Tebyani, Ph.D student
Maryam Tebyani

It’s been nice being in Santa Cruz; I joke that the only things I do in my life are run, climb at the Pacific Edge gym, research, and occasionally see a few friends. The quarantine has only stopped half of those activities!

Maia Dupuis, computer science and game design '20BA, BS
Maia Dupuis

Being yanked out of Santa Cruz was strange and sudden. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back. When I graduated from high school I swore I’d never live with my parents again, but here I am..

Naryan Black, Computer Science '20BS
Naryan Black

Job hunting right now doesn’t feel super great. I’m a database management expert so I’m brushing up on my SQL and ArcGIS while I’m looking. I’m lucky in that I can move in with my parents for a few months and hopefully find something for pocket change while I wait for something full-time.

Sarah Frost, Computational Media '20MS
Sarah Frost and friend

This is my last quarter to make the most of, but now, because of the virus, I’m trying to cut myself some slack and make I sure I get enough sleep so this anxious situation doesn’t become more than it already is.

Prof. Lindsey Kuper
Professor Lindsey Kuper

Obviously, my productivity has suffered, and it’s the same for anyone who has kids. This is the way the world is going to be for a little while. But there are more important things in life than research productivity.

Sara Nasab
Sara Nasab, Ph.D student

We joke that our lives as graduate students haven’t changed during the quarantine. Which isn’t true.

A. Ali Yanik
A. Ali Yanik

- Coming soon - 

Rachel Schwartz
Rachel Schwartz, '20 Bioengineering

This was already a hard year. I finally felt like I was getting some traction with my work and then COVID-19 struck. Being cut off from the rest of the lab made it all that much harder. But I’ll get it done.