Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Going the Social Distance: I spent the start of the pandemic in the state senate

Alexis Horton poses in front of the Louisiana State Senate. She started working there at the start of the pandemic. Courtesy of Alexis Horton.

Author is Alexis Horton

‘Going the Social Distance’ is a series by Loyola Students for Loyola Students about the triumphs and terrors of trying, or not trying, to maintain a social life during a pandemic.

For the third year in a row, I was given the opportunity to work for the Louisiana State Senate, but this year looked a little different from years past. My journey this summer was one that I will never forget because, during that time, I learned the importance of flexibility, perseverance and compassion.

At 16 years-old, I was first hired to work for the senate as a page. My job included running papers to every office building, grabbing coffee for busy senators and a number of duties not listed in the job description.

Now at 19 years-old, I am a head page. I work alongside law students and some of the greatest minds in the state. On Friday, March 20, I packed my bags and left my Biever dorm room, totally unaware of just how drastically COVID-19 would change the entire country. Saturday, March 21, I was told to arrive in Baton Rouge that Monday.

COVID-19 forced us all into uncomfortable situations. Mine was that for three months, I drove 160 miles EVERY SINGLE DAY. I woke up at 5:45 a.m. so that I could be at work at 8:00 a.m. I listened to every true crime podcast and dozens of celebrity interviews. I quickly became tired of fast food and long car rides.

However, my life was vastly different from that of others my age. I worked in one of the most incredible environments with some of the greatest minds in the state. I watched as possibilities became progress. I saw a side of “politics” that many refuse to acknowledge— humanity. Behind every law, there is a purpose, every bill, a brilliant story, and a group that is passionate about changing the world.

After a few weeks of lockdown, the cases of COVID-19 steadily grew, but with my mask on, I worked at the State capitol until July 1. It was an experience that taught me more about policymaking than a civics lesson could ever. I worked weekends and paid hundreds of dollars in gas money. I became friends with one gentleman at a gas station—we bonded over my potato chip addiction.

Now in October, I have returned to the senate for the fall extraordinary session. I am a second-year student, and I still drive every day. On top of that, I am a member of Gamma Phi Beta where I hold a few leadership positions, I serve on Women in Politics as the co-director of outreach and I am a returning student ambassador. My best friends laugh and remind me to take a deep breath once in a while.

The world is adjusting to a new normal, and I can’t help but reflect on how everyone’s actions impact others. I can’t help but reflect on how different I have become over the course of quarantine life, but different is OK. I am grateful for this opportunity and for a once in a lifetime learning experience.

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