Stories of Hope: A Positive Presentation – Asbury University
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July 21, 2020

Elizabeth JonesWhen Asbury made the decision – prompted by guidelines from the CDC and state government resources – to close campus for the rest of the semester, it was not only traditional lecture classes that were affected. Dr. Elizabeth Jones was conducting a directed study with Katherine Fitch ’21 during the spring semester on the topic of health communication. A communication major, Fitch provided research assistance on a poster that had been accepted for presentation at the Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, originally scheduled to be held in early April 2020.

“Dr. Jones and I spent all spring semester researching,” said Fitch. “We worked very hard to present our findings at a huge health communications conference in Lexington, which only happens every other year.” Fitch planned to attend the conference alongside Dr. Jones and was excited to meet other scholars in the health communication field.

Governor Beshear’s order in mid-March to restrict large gatherings and curb the spread of COVID-19 changed those plans. The physical conference was cancelled, and a virtual component created instead. “Katherine retained an extremely positive attitude, despite this change,” Dr. Jones said, explaining that she and Fitch attended the online conference and presented via Zoom.

Fitch, however, does not claim the credit for her positivity. “Of course, this was disappointing at first,” she said, “but we soon saw how God totally shifted our perspectives on the day of the conference. Dr. Jones and I logged onto Zoom and had our poster ready to present. A couple of people came and went, but with each one, we were able to have in-depth conversations that were deeper than the surface. We learned something about each person that came to see our poster.”

No one could have predicted the events of the spring semester of 2020 or how different it would turn out from what had been planned, but Fitch chooses not to complain about the unexpected changes. “Something I have definitely learned at Asbury,” she said, “is how to be adaptable in different situations, and learn to see the positives, even when it’s so much easier to see the negatives.” While she may have preferred to attend the conference in person – and she is excited to return to Asbury’s campus in August – Fitch has taken her own words to heart and chosen to see the good side of her experience. “I imagine that if we had presented the poster in person, we wouldn’t have had the same chance to connect with people like that.”