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COVID-19 Diaries: Virus Puts Stresses Large and Small on Family Life 

Our four legged family member, Casey, is very satisfied with this shelter at home arrangement having all of us at her disposal at all times. (Penelope Poulou/VOA)
Our four legged family member, Casey, is very satisfied with this shelter at home arrangement having all of us at her disposal at all times. (Penelope Poulou/VOA)

Hundreds of azalea bushes have blossomed, and a sea of colors has swelled up overnight in my neighborhood. Amidst this glorious awakening of nature, one could never suspect the mute sadness, anxiety and uncertainty we feel stuck in our home.

We are all safe though not all that sound — mentally, I mean. Arguments break out over whose turn it is to go to the grocery store, donning construction-style face masks and rubber gloves, disinfect incoming groceries, or take out the trash.

Our situation cannot be compared to that of people who are exposed to the virus, who work long, grueling hours at hospitals losing patients daily, or who are dying alone in hospital corridors.

But the nagging questions — “When will our lives get back to normal? Will they ever be the same?” — keep jolting us back to the grim reality every time our minds wander off to something happier. They are like a shrill alarm that needs to be put on snooze every five minutes.

WATCH: Penelope Poulou's video report

 How Covid-19 Has Disrupted my Daughters’ College Lives
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I am particularly anxious for my daughters’ future. They are both college students.

The older one studies at our community college nearby, and lives at home. And though there has not been a stark change in her day-to-day life, her studies have switched to an online platform and her final results have converted to a generic Pass/Fail system at a time when showing stellar grades would secure her transfer to her dream college next semester, a very selective four-year school in Virginia.

On-campus college life has been suspended for both my daughters, sheltering at home and studying online. (Penelope Poulou/VOA)
On-campus college life has been suspended for both my daughters, sheltering at home and studying online. (Penelope Poulou/VOA)

The younger one studies in Chicago — or I should say studied in Chicago — until she had to hurry home as the number of coronavirus cases mounted in the Midwestern state of Illinois. She too has switched to online instruction, a very challenging situation for her Performing Arts major.

She misses her friends, her surroundings and her very belongings, which student dorm employees threaten to stash haphazardly somewhere if she does not go and collect them. Never mind the funny little videos that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot keeps posting online, asking people to “stay at home, save lives.”

Aside from my daily concerns at home, I worry about my family abroad. As a Greek-American, I have always straddled two continents — my husband and kids on this one, my mother and sister on the other.

I am grateful and proud that Greece has kept the COVID-19 curve relatively flat compared to the rest of Europe and the U.S. But Orthodox Easter, the greatest celebration for Greeks, is fast approaching, and there are fears that some renegades might defy government orders and congregate in churches for worship, or visit with one other to celebrate, and end up inflating that curve.

My 86-year-old mother shelters at home alone. A spirited human being, she is self-sufficient and resilient, but still among those who are most vulnerable to the virus and should not go out. So, every day, my sister drops food outside the door of her apartment building.

But social distancing is rough. My mom does not have an internet connection, she refuses to learn this “new” technology and has no online cameras, Zoom, Skype, Facetime or anything that can bring her closer to her loved ones through video during this time.

So, I guess, she does what’s second best. She goes out on her third-floor balcony, waves to my sister from a distance, and calls her on the phone. I could call it “tele” chatting without the internet.

Anxieties and uncertainties aside, I am thankful that we are all okay and sheltered. But the happiest being among us is our four-legged family member, Casey, who is over the moon about having, somehow inexplicably, all her family together, at her disposal, at all times.

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Study Finds Anger, Fear After Dobbs Ruling

FILE - An abortion rights protestor, center, uses a megaphone as anti-abortion demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the March for Life, Jan. 20, 2023, in Washington.
FILE - An abortion rights protestor, center, uses a megaphone as anti-abortion demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the March for Life, Jan. 20, 2023, in Washington.

A study published in Frontiers in Public Health found students were angry, afraid and concerned about the loss of rights after the 2021 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Anarticle in Contemporary OB/GYN says the ruling, which removed guaranteed access to abortions in the United States, has also led to increased contraceptive use by young adults. (January 2024)

Iowa’s Clark Becomes NCAA Division-I All-Time Leading Scorer for Men’s and Women’s Basketball

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) takes a free throw against Ohio State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Iowa City, Iowa, March 3, 2024.
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) takes a free throw against Ohio State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Iowa City, Iowa, March 3, 2024.

Iowa star Caitlin Clark became the all-time NCAA Division I scoring leader on Sunday, breaking the late Pete Maravich's 54-year-old record when she made two free throws after a technical foul was called in the No. 6 Hawkeyes' game against No. 2 Ohio State.

Clark entered the game in Iowa City needing 18 points to pass Maravich's total of 3,667, amassed in just 83 games over three seasons at LSU (1967-70).

Maravich's record fell four days after Clark broke Lynette Woodard's major college women's record with 33 points against Minnesota on Wednesday.

Clark's record-setting points Sunday came in improbable fashion. Best-known for her long 3-point shots, she instead went past Maravich after Ohio State was called for a technical foul with less than a second to go in the first half.

Clark swished both free throws to run her career total to 3,668 points; she had no immediate reaction after the second shot went through, as if it hadn't sunk in yet.

Asked in a television interview at halftime if she was aware of the record when she stepped to the line, Clark said, "Not really. When they announced it and everybody screamed, that's when I knew."

Clark got off to a slow start. Her first shot was a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim. She missed a layup and from deep on the right wing before making a 3 from the left side for her first basket.

After starting 2 for 7, she made 3 of her next 4 shots — including three straight 3-pointers, each deeper than the previous.

Woodard was among the attendees at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to help Clark celebrate senior day. Also on hand were basketball great Maya Moore, who was Clark's favorite player, and Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

On Thursday, Clark announced she would enter the 2024 WNBA draft and skip the fifth year of eligibility available to athletes who competed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Indiana Fever, and the WNBA already is seeing a rise in ticket sales.

Logitix, which researches prices on ticket resale platforms, reported an average sale price of $598 for a ticket to this game purchased since Feb. 1.

"Listen, this is the greatest ticket on the planet right now," Woodard said in an interview with ESPN before the game. "Hey, I'm going to enjoy this right now."

Clark is all but assured of one or two more appearances at the arena in Iowa City after Sunday. Iowa is projected to be a No. 2 seed for the NCAA Tournament, meaning it would be at home for the first two rounds.

Pearl Moore of Francis Marion owns the overall women's record with 4,061 points from 1975-79 at the small-college level in the AIAW. Moore had 177 points at Anderson Junior College before enrolling at Francis Marion.

Clark was 393 behind Moore as of halftime Sunday, and she has only three to 10 more games left in an Iowa uniform depending on how far the Hawkeyes advance in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

The fall of Maravich's record will be subject to scrutiny.

Maravich's all-time scoring mark is one of the more remarkable in sports history. There was no shot clock or 3-point line in his era. The 3-point line was adopted in 1986.

Maravich averaged 44.2 points per game. He scored more than 60 in a game four times, topping out at 69 against Alabama on Feb. 7, 1970.

Clark averages 28.3 points for her career and was playing in her 130th game Sunday. Her career-best output was 49 points against Michigan on Feb. 15, when she passed Kelsey Plum as the NCAA women's Division I career scoring leader.

Clark has 54 games with at least 30 points, the most of any player in men's or women's college basketball over the last 25 years. She has six triple-doubles this season and 17 in her career.

"What Caitlin's done has been amazing. She's a fantastic player, great for the women's game and basketball in general," Maravich's eldest son, Jaeson, told The Associated Press last week.

Number of US Doctoral Degrees at All-Time High

FILE - Graduation ceremonies for University of North Carolina Wilmington are shown in this 2014 file photo.
FILE - Graduation ceremonies for University of North Carolina Wilmington are shown in this 2014 file photo.

The number of doctoral degrees awarded by colleges and universities in the United States is at an all-time high, following a drop during the pandemic.

Forbes reports the jump between 2021 and 2022 was the largest one-year increase recorded since 1970. (February 2024)

US Embassy in Ghana Expands Outreach, Invites More Ghanaians to Study in America

US Embassy in Ghana Expands Outreach, Invites More Ghanaians to Study in America
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In the past academic year, U.S. colleges and universities saw a nearly 32 percent increase in Ghanaian students, making Ghana one of the top 25 countries in the world for sending students to the United States. To accommodate the growing interest, the U.S. Embassy in Ghana has opened a new resource center for young people considering an American education. Senanu Tord reports from Kumasi, Ghana.

How Are Colleges Using Generative AI?

FILE PHOTO: Educators are using tools such as ChatGPT to help students learn.
FILE PHOTO: Educators are using tools such as ChatGPT to help students learn.

Professors are using tools such as ChatGPT to provide feedback, grade assignments, prepare slide decks and more.

Ashley Mowreader reports on a Tyton Partners survey for Inside Higher Ed. (February 2023)

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