Fall 2020


Chela Costa

Sept. 11, 2020

WARWICK- Despite layoffs and at-risk family members, these CCRI students were determined to return to school for the fall semester on August 31st.

Morgan Maples, 32, of North Providence and Ashtyn Paschaol, 24, of Riverside charted whole new courses for the 2020 fall semester. Maples has begun finishing off the credits needed to apply to CCRI's nursing program and Paschoal has started courses for respiratory therapy. The virus has impacted so many lives negatively. These glimmers of hope and efforts to overcome adversity deserve recognition.

After she was laid off due to COVID-19, Maples, a registered medical assistant, volunteered at St. Lukes Hospital. There she worked directly with coronavirus patients, risking her own health and the health of her family at home. It was during that time she realized for sure that she wanted to become a nurse.

"Working at the hospital was a life-changing experience for me. I worked with patients one-on-one and really had a chance to see how the coronavirus and other illnesses affected them," she said. "I have worked for years in the medical field but working in the hospital environment was a completely different experience than what I was used to, especially in the middle of a pandemic. I really got to make a difference in these patient's lives. That's when I knew I was meant to be a nurse."

Paschaol, a dental assistant and former student of CCRI's dental hygiene program, also faced a layoff from her office due to the pandemic. She'd already begun contemplating other careers and the pandemic seemed to help her decide to make a choice.

"COVID definitely hit hard when it came to school. I was right in my second semester in the dental hygiene program. Second and third semester are supposedly the most challenging, so the fact that this crap got moved online made me quite nervous," said Paschaol.

Though the difficulties made her realize hygiene was not what she wanted to do, Paschoal remained committed to being fulfilled and helping others with her career.

"It's time for me to do something I love!" she said.

Aside from taking on their hardships, both women are mothers with family obligations and concerns. Maples has once more begun home schooling her 9-year-old daughter on top of her studies, which also include CNA courses four nights a week. The certification has become a new requirement for applicants to the nursing program. Her husband, an essential worker at Cox Communications provides, which puts him at risk for contracting the virus and one income has already been lost.

Paschaol has also been nervous about the virus in her home, as her young son potentially has Asthma. "Every time he runs around a lot, I feel like it's hard for him to catch his breath...he just started doing it not too long ago," said Paschoal. She and her son also live with her grandparents and her mother, a phlebotomist who also deals firsthand with COVID patients.

Though the virus is still among us, these two mothers are bravely embracing their new paths for the future: their loved ones and the loved ones of others in mind.


Stories of college students during the pandemic of 2020

John Boisvert
Sept. 12, 2020

WARWICK- Whether it be endless hours surrounded by family, missing out on college parties, or facing the front line in riot gear - students at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) have all been deeply impacted by the coronavirus over the last six months.

"I knew it was coming...I got the sense it was going to be bad," Jonathan Dougherty of the Rhode Island National Guard said.

While working in commercial fishing, attending CCRI, and active in the National Guard, Dougherty discussed the experiences of being on the front line where he was part of flagging down cars coming from New York, standing on the steps of City Hall "in full riot gear" during Black Lives Matter protests in Providence, as well as serving at the Wyndham Hotel in Warwick, RI where homeless residents were quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19.

"It was super eerie bringing coffee to the fifth floor at the hotel knowing everyone on the floor was infected," Dougherty recalled.

Dougherty referenced the amount of time with his family, and bonding with his brother who returned home from college due to the pandemic.

"I really think I grew closer to my family because you couldn't go to parties or anything due to the shutdown," Dougherty concluded.

Working two jobs when Governor Gina Raimondo shutdown the state, 19-year-old Paul Diogenes of North Providence found himself surrounded by his parents and four siblings more than ever.

"I was not used to being around my family so much, it was quite an adjustment. I didn't leave the house for the first month out of concern for my family." Diogenes said.

Diogenes expressed a sense of frustration to the actions of college students at the University of Rhode Island in referencing a recent party on-campus where police broke up a party of more than 1000 students where there was no social distancing and minimal masks.

"It's things like this that show how ruthless we can be, right down to our core." Diogenes concluded on the college party.

Christina Longo of Portsmouth discussed the impact of the pandemic, including financial hardship after losing employment, inability to see her mother, and struggling to maintain motivation in college classes.

"I really think I developed a low-grade depression that has yet to subside. It felt like I lost my purpose." Longo said.

Longo continued discussing the emotional heartache of not being able to physically hug her mother, the stress of trying to make ends meet, and finding the motivation to not give up on college. One thing is clear, as college students face this unprecedented event, they continue to work to overcome hardships, face emotional challenges and fight social isolation. The resilience they exhibit gives hope that we can all come together in such a historical time.


Audrey K. Vicente
Sept. 18, 2020

There are a lot of things that have affected me in my life, between all of my medical problems to everyday life challenges. The one thing that has affected me the most during COVID-19 would be not being able to do the thing I normally would do. For example, I use to see my boyfriend Daniel and his family quite often and go out to dinner with them, but due to the restrictions of COVID-19, many restaurants were closed and the number of people that we can spend time with is being limited by the guidance of public health mandates. I have many close friends whom I enjoyed going out with or doing various activities with, which was also a helpful outlet for my mental health, but many stores and recreational places have been forced to close or have restrictions. Due to my underlying medical conditions, I am also at extremely high risk for COVID-19, which means that I had to stay in quarantine for the past few months. Therefore, the only social interaction I had was via social media or phone calls. This takes away from in person socialization as many of us are forced to use social media and technology more now than ever. Our society is already dependent on many features of technology, and this technology has left many of us lacking actual face to face interaction. Now, with COVID, for many of us, this matter is only becoming worse.

Another huge piece of my life was my involvement in Special Olympics sports. Many peers of mine look forward to Special Olympics; it has always been a great way to stay active and healthy and also socialize with friends and teammates. Since COVID-19 started, Special Olympics has been cancelled. This affects not only me but my fellow athletes as currently we are not always able to participate in our normal routines and enjoy the company of our friends.

When it comes to elderly loved ones, COVID-19 has really put a damper on things. Many people can't visit with their loved ones who live in nursing homes or in dependent care facilities because of the risk of carrying COVID into the centers. There have been several situations when people's loved ones have unfortunately passed away without their families being able to say the proper goodbyes to them. Going back a few months, when COVID first hit, loved ones couldn't even attend funerals to say goodbye for the final time to their dear family members or friends. Now, immediate family are the only one allowed to attend. The same is true for weddings; weddings all over the country have been cancelled or have had restrictions that they had to follow, such as cutting down the guest attendance list to 25 guest or less. This is causing much stress on engaged couples everywhere who are trying to plan weddings that were originally planned for 2020.

Another way that COVID-19 has affected me personally is by the mandate of having to wear a face mask. This is a new way of life for everyone, and one that many people are still not use to. I suffer from Asthma, along with severe heart and lung issues, so wearing a mask for a long amount of time can become suffocating and cause complications with my breathing. I know that the discussion of wearing a mask is a hot topic for many, and it is indeed a helpful in preventing the spread of COVID. However, there are many people who despise wearing a mask due to underlying health issues, anxiety disorders, or claustrophobic tendencies. On the positive side of masks, wearing one has become so normalized now that people are buying or making cute and stylish ones to match their outfits and seasons. You can find a mask to match almost any hobby, favorite character, or even animal that you may want. I have a few different ones, such as Baby Yoda, Betty Boop, Minions, and more. While I only wear a mask when quickly running to the store because if affects my Asthma, I can at least be somewhat stylish while wearing one.

In conclusion, COVID has really taken a toll on many individuals, including myself. Life as we knew it, is no longer the same, and people have had to learn to adapt to life with COVID. Many people have lost their jobs and homes. There are the public health mandates regarding face masks, social distancing, and limited face to face socialization. Visits to loved ones in nursing homes have been restricted. There are even arrows directing the way that we must navigate through stores. Services and recreational activities continue to be cancelled. Many people are struggling, and these issues have resulted in resistance and frustration for many. This is causing depression in many individuals and even mental health counseling is now virtual and harder to participate in. So many people are feeling isolated and unsure of how to cope with the feelings of uncertainty and lack of normalcy that COVID brings. My wish is that COVID will (hopefully) subside by Spring 2021 and that life can get back to normal. I really wish that people would take a minute of their time and realize that we are all being affected by the changes that COVID has brought upon us, and we all could use a little more kindness and compassion while we deal with this situation together. In the meantime, stay kind, stay healthy, stay happy.


Maria Antigua Brito

WARWICK- Professor Belisa Nunez, a teacher from the Community College of Rhode Island, went into her 2020-2021 school year not knowing that a world pandemic was going to take place. She prepared for her year, as she did for all her previous years of teaching at the college. As soon as March began, things took a tremendous turn. She was not able to see her students in person and the way she taught her students took a 180-degree turn.

COVID-19 has impacted the way 18,000 students learn at the college, but also the way that their professors teach at CCRI. As of now, there are no in-person classes, expect for some courses that have required labs. Lessons are often taught through zoom, or through programs such as Collaborate. Currently, this is the closest to in-person learning experiences that students and teachers will receive.

"With that priority as our guide, the college has come to the decision that we must continue with primarily remote teaching and learning for Spring 2021," wrote Meghan Hughes, the president of the college in an email to the college community on September 30.

"The safety of our students, faculty, staff and community remains our foremost priority, and while we look forward to the day when we can come together in person again, we will not risk the health and wellness of our community to do so," wrote Hughes.

Although it is the safest way to proceed on with learning, students and teachers have seen a major difference with this new of learning.

Beholden Plymouth, a student from the college has been feeling as if he has no purpose in doing online school.

"I feel like there is really nothing to be learning about. I am just handing in assignments and getting grades" said Plymouth.

Teachers, in the other hand, find it hard to engage their students while online learning is taking place. During morning classes, students are often just waking up which lowers their attention span.

For example, Professor Ali Khalil an assistant professor of English at the college, teaches an 8am class that lasts until 11:25am.

"I can sense that my students are tired, and this causes them to often lose focus in the class. This is one of my main reasons for having a 10-minute break within the class" said Khalil.

Theodore Professor Clement a theater professor, is an example of a teacher who is trying very hard with students to maintain the class as easygoing and entertaining as possible.

"A colleague of mine shared the idea of using Flip Grid to submit assignments," said Clement. "I think this was a great idea as students can see each other and learn from each other. I find it entertaining; I think they do, too. Plus, it makes grading easier for all of us."

"It was a bit difficult at the beginning, but some of my students managed to help me as well. We seem to be in the right track now" added Clement.

Nunez said that patience is key to the current situation the college is going through.

"I tend to be really as positive and look at the effects that remote learning has brought my students" said Mrs. Nunez.

Overall, remote learning is just a big group assignment that about seven million college students are participating in. It is different than what people are used to, but a lot of effort is being made so that everyone can move on successfully. 


Chela Costa

Oct.4, 2020

CUMBERLAND - In between parenting two children and working odd jobs, Justin M. Tolliver spends hours a day standing at his kitchen counter on his laptop, attempting to forge new relationships with entertainment industry professionals. He researches casting directors, agents, managers, and up and coming directors.

For nearly five long years of extra work, intermittent bookings and long stretches without auditions, Tolliver pursed his passion for acting and filmmaking as a career with not as much headway as he envisioned. Until recently. The winds of change seem to have started blowing his way.

Like many actors, Tolliver spent his first few years dodging scams and figuring out what it takes to be a working actor. In short, it takes a lot. He started by getting headshots, training, subscribing to online breakdown sites, and submitting to agents and managers.

"Unless you're young and gorgeous, you're gonna have to work hard to show the industry you're serious." says Tolliver.

It is not just actors who are grateful for the surge in films shooting in New England. There are numerous opportunities for those looking to work on set, such as lighting, production assistants, hair and makeup, and wardrobe. Even locals with no experience can see what it is like working on their favorite shows and upcoming films.

The area is not only a great place to film for its distinctive seacoast and city views, it has attractive tax incentives for filmmakers. The Rhode Island film and television office website has all the details of the newest film and TV tax credit bill. The tax credits are worth 30 percent of in-state expenses with the requirement that productions shoot more than half the production in the state.

And right next door, Massachusetts gives filmmakers, meeting certain budget criteria, 25 percent production credit, a 25 percent payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption, according to the MA state film website. These are the biggest reasons more producers are choosing New England and the more productions that bring their projects to New England means more job opportunities and more chances to make dreams reality for locals.

The two largest casting companies for film and TV in the area, Boston Casting and CP Casting also offer a variety of classes focused on teaching actors how to book speaking roles in the projects that come through. Anyone can take classes, not only professional actors looking for a career. Many have started out with a mild interest and have gone on to change paths when things start taking off. There are no guarantees in this industry, but it is a magical business, and anything could happen. Extras get bumps to speaking, one line or even a few, all the time.

"Little by little the projects are coming back, they're different, but they're coming back." said Lisa Lobel, co-owner, with Angela Peri, of Boston Casting.

The two appeared recently on NBC Boston to share the exciting news that films have once more begun production.

"And think about it, all of the networks have used all of the stuff that they have, so now they need new content. So, we're almost forced to come up with new shows," said Peri.

When asked about how auditions could come back safely, Peri put her hands by her mouth and called out to those listening, "Self-tape...figure out how to use that camera..."

Self-tapes for the audition process have become an absolute need-to-know skill as social distancing remains necessary. On a positive note, it has also opened many doors to classes and auditions that were once out of reach to some actors, due to distance.

The news that some productions had resumed filming was exciting and welcome to Tolliver and his family, after months of waiting.

Tolliver has started to pick up steam, having up to three auditions weekly. Most recently booking the lead in an Investigation Discovery crime show, but his most exciting news came last week: he signed with Models On The Move talent agent, Lucy King, out of New Jersey. Tolliver feels like his career is about to be taken to the next level.

Many factors go into booking and signing with representation Tolliver said. Its unclear whether the pandemic has helped more than hindered his case, but there are a lot of projects coming back all at once that will need actors while the "names" already have contracts. He has heard rumors that it could provide new openings for unknown talent.

In New England Tolliver is represented by New England Model Club. Originally from Wisconsin, Tolliver has lived in Cumberland, RI with his wife and two children for the past four years.

"Having a family and chasing your dreams is hard, there's no other way to put it, especially facing a pandemic." said Tolliver. "But I've never felt more alive. There's nothing like the reminder of how little time we really have here to get you to buckle down on your heart's desire."


Rose Pauline Johnson- Editor-In-Chief
John Boisvert- Contributing Writer
Maria Antigua Brito- Contributing Writer
Chela Costa- Contributing Writer
Audrey Vincente- Contributing Writer

Eileen James- English Professor; Lens Advisor

The Unfiltered Lens / ccriunfilteredlens@gmail.com / All rights reserved 2021
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