Transferring Amid Pandemic Gives Student Hope

Kara Cormier makes her presentation to the team
Kara Cormier, center, presents her idea to Radiation Safety Director Steven Snay, left, and Art & Design Assoc. Prof. Yuko Oda, right.

By Brooke Coupal

Kara Cormier finished high school in the spring of 2019, the last graduating class before the pandemic.
“It’s strange to think about how so much would change within the following year,” says Cormier, who attended Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in her hometown of Billerica, Massachusetts.
Cormier was studying studio art at Middlesex Community College when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Over time, taking all classes online became “unbearable,” she says.
By the time Cormier finished her associate degree in 2021, she was ready for a change.
“I knew I was transferring schools after completing my associate degree, so having that end goal was really what drove me to keep going,” she says. “I felt so isolated from everyone that I was ready to start at a new university, with the hope that things would go back to some sense of normalcy.”
Cormier chose to attend UMass Lowell after talking with alumni who spoke “so highly of the university.” That first semester, Cormier says she felt relief.
“I met up with several other students who had transferred from Middlesex, and we helped each other quite a bit when things first started going back to in-person,” she says. “We’ve drifted a bit since then, but I will always be grateful for having that little bit of camaraderie.”
Cormier adds that transferring to a new school in the fall of 2021 felt easier, as most of her classmates were also taking classes on campus for the first time.
“I didn’t feel as out of place,” she says. “I’ve made so many friendships and connections by attending UMass Lowell.”
Cormier is ready to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in studio art. She recently won a radiation-themed sculpture contest on campus and previously interned at the university’s Mahoney Gallery
“It was such a drastic change from learning things virtually to now learning how an art gallery is run,” she says. “I learned a lot about the art and design field and have carried that knowledge into my work.”
After Commencement, Cormier plans to expand her portfolio and establish herself as an artist.
“I’m excited to see what comes my way,” she says.