Faces of Resilience (part 3 of 4)


Jordan Cone

During these uncertain times, the Observer has teamed up with Farrah Roberts, director of student well-being and resiliency, to launch the Faces of Resilience project, which spotlights members of the Augustana community who have shown resilience during this challenging time. Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to nominate each other for finding ways to stay connected, for going above and beyond in distance learning or for bouncing back from adversity.  

We are pleased to present to you part three of a four part series celebrating our community.



nominated by Destined Sehgbean

“Mrs. Smith continues to impact my life in a unique way since I arrived on campus. She has showered me with so much love, care and support that only a mother can provide. On campus she is my go-to person whenever I’m clogged between difficulties, and she never relents to help me. In these chaotic scenes her office is always reaching out, checking on students to know about our well-being and willing to help in case we are challenged. I find this exceptional of her and want to give her this flower of love and gratitude.” – Sehgbean

Smith says there have been students who have frequently visited her office over the past two and a half years with whom she’s developed a relationship with. As they’ve crossed her mind, she’s made an intentional effort to send notes asking how they’ve been doing to ensure that she still cares for them and that care is genuine.

“You know, out of sight does not mean out of mind, and so I want the students to know that we might not be sharing the same space, and you might not be able to stop by my office, but I miss you and I care about you and I want you to know that,” Smith says.

Smith says social distancing has been a challenge but she’s been paying close attention to her energy levels, body and mind. So, when she wakes up full of energy, she says she turns it into productivity. She also goes for two walks a day – once in the morning, and once at night – and pays more attention to nutrition. Lastly, Smith says she is mindful of what she consumes through news and media as it can have a negative effect on one’s psyche.

“I encourage people to think through their experiences,” Smith says. “I would encourage people to know that their feelings are valid. These are unprecedented, historical times for us but I do believe that at our core, we have what is necessary to get through, both individually and collectively.”



nominated by Mia Gerace

“Thea Gonzales initiated a traveling letter in our friends’ group of ladies that traveled to Louisiana during J-Term which has brought the group of us so much happiness when opening it! All five of us write on the same piece of paper and then send it to the next girl in the chain. It has helped us to feel connected in a new way that is charming with or without this less-than-ideal pandemic situation. We have written both words of worry and of encouragement in the letter, suggested podcasts to listen to and books to read, as well as adding cut outs of jokes, memes, magazines, doodles and hearts to put in our windows! Thank you Thea, for your presence on this earth <3 you are loved by so many.” – Gerace

Gonzales says she got the idea for the letter chain from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She thought it would be cool to connect with friends through the mail.  In her first letter, Gonzales says along with life updates, she sent four paper bears, as the Chicago Tribune had reported that people were sending each other bears to put in their windows so that kids in Chicago could search for them while on walks.

During this uncertain time, Gonzales has been reading the seventh book of Harry Potter:

“It sounds really silly but it’s the last book where Harry doesn’t go back to Hogwarts and his senior year of school gets cut short because he has to fight some darkness because Voldemort has come back. Reading the book makes me think about all the ways that my life is the same as Harry’s right now – even though it’s fictional. We are away from the people that we love and we can’t be at our school in the same way, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t hold onto the things that are meaningful and the things that bring us joy, and the things that give us strength right now like our family and our friends and why we’re fighting, why we’re staying inside.”



nominated by Jesslyn Cohen

“Dr. Chetel has come up with a super creative way to keep all of the students connected and engaged with material even though there is no orchestra rehearsals happening. I know it brings so many of our members happiness in the week!” – Cohen

Chetel says that orchestra fulfills his students in slightly different ways whether that be in a social sense or a musical one, and has tried to honor those differences through distance learning. He says he’s done so through Moodle assignments, optional virtual hangouts on Thursday nights and a Moodle dropbox for baking recipes. He encourages students to send YouTube links to songs that have been bringing them joy or comfort which has become a YouTube playlist of over 200 songs.

Chetel says he finds comfort during this time by making to-do lists and baking, specifically baking bread. In fact, he’s been growing a sourdough starter for seven years which he says is very technical and process-based – similar to playing an instrument. Every weekend, he says, he has a new “bread experiment.”

“It’s great for us to remember that there’s a really big team on your side,” Chetel says. “It can be harder to see that team because we’re so far apart geographically, but in some ways that team’s working harder than it ever has on behalf of everyone, and that’s a really powerful thing.”



nominated by Karen Sheraden

“I would like to nominate Dr. Kathy Jakielski, CSD, for keeping her Anatomy of Speech students engaged by holding virtual labs.  At the beginning of the semester, we had purchased materials that the students were going to need for labs. Because of distance learning, we decided to mail each of the students their materials so they could participate in Google Hangouts labs.  One of the labs involved donning swim caps and drawing the bones and landmarks of the cranial skull; some students even persuaded family members to be their models. The other lab called for the students to use face-painting crayons to identify the facial bones and muscles on themselves.  Thank you, Dr. J, for keeping the students engaged and having fun while doing it!” – Sheraden

Jakielski has 44 students who physically reside in three different time zones, so she decided to offer four times for labs. With the help of CSD coordinator, Karen Sheraden, they were able to mail all of the materials for the lab to the students. 

Members of Jakielski’s class demonstrating their knowledge of the facial skeleton using face paint during distance learning, spring term 2020. Photo contributed by Karen Sheraden.

Members of Jakielski’s class demonstrating their knowledge of the skull by drawing on swim caps during distance learning, spring term 2020. Photo contributed by Karen Sheraden.


Jakielski says during this time she’s trying to implement structure into her daily schedule as she is someone who thrives on structure. She encourages the Augustana community to extend compassion to each other, as everyone is struggling.

“If there was ever a time to bend the rules, to let go of our highest expectations, it’s now,” Jakielski says. “I think [the] most important [thing] is to take care of one another.”



nominated by Haley DeGreve

“I’d like to nominate Emilee Goad for being a great support to so many and working so diligent with me for this year’s first virtual Denim Day! She goes above and beyond for so many people. She supports students’ mental health and those who are healing from sexual assault. She’s truly an amazing person.” – DeGreve

Goad says she’s been using social media a lot more during this time than before to engage with students. With students she works with, she says emails and video chats have been important ways to facilitate face-to-face interaction.

Goad says she’s been taking advantage of the weather when it’s warm outside to run and walk. She says she’s also been doing a lot of video-chatting with family, friends and colleagues through FaceTime or Zoom to stay connected.

“My main piece of advice is to give yourself some grace,” Goad says. “I think this is a strange time for everybody. Nobody quite knows exactly how to feel or what to do. Everybody, including myself, has had some bad days and had some good days. And on those days that are tougher, allow yourself a little bit of grace to accept that things can be hard and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. When that happens, when you feel ready, definitely reach out to your support system, even if it’s one person or a group of people.”