SBI student refuses to let virus get him off track

Justin Brown. Photo courtesy Brown

Justin Brown, a senior majoring in business at Florida A&M, has been affected by the pandemic mentally, socially and emotionally.

Last spring, Brown, just like other college students, experienced a drastic change due to the coronavirus.

“My experience with online classes was very rough for me during fall semester because as an SBI student I was used to interacting with my classmates. When classes transferred to online, it was difficult for me to adjust to the new norm of how school would be conducted,” he said.

While learning to adapt to online courses, Brown was hit with yet another roadblock. “During the beginning of the pandemic, I was laid off from my job at Subway on the FSU campus. My co-workers and I were informed that our employment would be terminated within two weeks, and I was advised to file for unemployment due to managers being unaware of re-opening,” Brown said.

Dealing with the challenges and obstacles that Brown faced, he decided to go to his hometown of Clewiston, in South Florida, to be with his family.  Coronavirus outbreaks started to increase all over the U.S. while impacting families and different communities. While getting comfortable and enjoying time with family, Brown noticed he wasn’t feeling well. “The moment I realized I caught the virus, I noticed I wasn’t able to taste or smell anything. At the time, I was visiting my 60-year-old grandmother and I was worried that she would contract the virus from me, so I went to get tested. Three days later, I received a message from the Florida Health Department stating that I was positive for coronavirus. I was very shocked and scared knowing that the virus was not only new, but it was untreatable. I had to isolate myself by quarantining in my bedroom for two weeks until it was time for me to get retested.” Brown said that he dealt with stress and anxiety because he was still juggling online classes at FAMU.

Contracting COVID took a toll on Brown, causing him to distance himself from friends and family, and requiring him to  stay at home due to the fear of catching the virus again. Brown’s aunt,SophiaBrown, said: “When Justin came and told me he tested positive for COVID, I immediately went to get tested. Three days after being tested, I learned that I was also positive. I had to quarantine for two weeks at my home and away from my mother. I didn’t have any symptoms and felt fine,” she said.

Brown, his twin sister Mya and grandmother lived together. To protect his grandmother, Brown used cleaning products to keep the house sanitized, and also encouraging hand washing and sanitizers. “Justin cleaned up the house at least twice a day, and feared being around anyone because he was afraid that he would get the virus again. He is very strong because he still continued to maintain his classes while being sick and dealing with coronavirus,” Mya Brown said.

Although Brown was impacted by the pandemic, it didn’t stop him from putting his good foot forward and completing all of his online courses and beating the deadly virus. After receiving a negative test, Brown came back to Tallahassee to continue his journey in SBI.

Brown is focused on graduating while being positive that more networking opportunities will be available due to the COVID vaccination. Brown has used self-care to help deal with the anxiety and stress from the pandemic and is looking to his future.