Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2021

When nothing but a hug will do

The common “hug” has become something of a lost expression of endearment, thanks to COVID-19. But it is among the top post-pandemic goals for Mercyhurst University senior Marina Boyle of Dublin, Ireland, who has had her fair share of brushes with the virus in the past year. “The Irish are very warm people,” she said. “When this is all over, I can't wait to give everyone I know a huge hug.” As an international student, Marina was required to quarantine for 14 days on the North East campus before starting classes last fall. That did little to vanquish her Irish charm and optimism. “Many schools were completely remote in the fall,” she said. “Knowing that Mercyhurst was making every efort to get us back on campus safely was the light at the end of the tunnel.” Like most Mercyhurst students, Marina adapted well to the new academic regimen, the masking, social distancing, and other limitations. And yet, for all the well-executed safety measures taken by the university, and her compliance with them, Marina got COVID-19. It was just before the end of fall semester and her return to Dublin for the holidays. As a resident assistant, Marina interacts with students daily, so when a colleague tested positive for the virus, Marina took the test and realized the same result. But she wasn’t scared. Her sister, 2013 Mercyhurst alumna Rhona Boyle, who studied pre-med here and is now a junior doctor in Aberdeen, Scotland, contracted the virus on the job last May, as did her husband, James Foxton.

“At the time, the virus was still quite new and, naturally, my family was worried,” Marina remembered. “But, thankfully, Rhona had a relatively mild case and recovered quickly.” Fortunately for Marina, her physical symptoms were likewise moderate. It was the mental and emotional consequences of dealing with the disease that challenged her most. Quarantining, which obviously constrained Marina’s interactions for those 14 days last fall, was nothing compared to the restrictions of isolating with the virus. She was relegated to the confnes of her townhouse, primarily to the 140 square feet that was her bedroom. But, again, her tolerance prevailed. “I tried to keep a positive attitude, no matter what happened, and to use my time wisely,” she said. “If I was quarantined or isolated, I saw it as a unique opportunity to slow down, take time to call friends and family, and focus on helpful tasks like improving a skill, applying for jobs, or networking.” Marina also said she found solidarity among the Mercyhurst community. “Many of us who experienced quarantine or were unfortunate enough to contract the virus supported one another,” she said. “During those times, the special community and mission we have here at Mercyhurst was more important than ever.” When all is said and done, Marina hopes to use her degree in business and competitive intelligence to pursue a career in a travel-related industry. She’s also eager to meet new people, but not before doling out lots of hugs to friends and family.


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