It all started with one private message admitting a common Zoom mishap — Alyssa Wend SC ’24 forgot to mute herself during class. Ellen Hu SC ’24 noticed and was kind enough to tell Wend that she left her microphone on.
Wend never anticipated that one message from Hu would set them on a path to become friends and co-hosts of a podcast in their first year at Scripps College.
Despite being miles away from Wend, Hu was not surprised by the start of their creative journey together. She claimed that if there are two things the past two semesters have taught the class of 2024, they are initiative and resilience.
The class of 2024 has an incredibly unique experience as the only class to have never set foot on campus for their entire first year as Claremont College students. However, being isolated brought out their more creative, crafty and resilient qualities. Scripps first-years Wend and Hu took their special challenges into their own hands and started the podcast “2024 Our Story” to talk about how their virtual year has affected their class.
They posted the first episode of their “2024 Our Story” podcast on Jan. 23, 2021 and have continued to upload weekly 30-minute episodes since. Hu and Wend have discussed topics such as PERMS, enrollment, hate crimes against the AAPI community and acknowledging privilege in primarily white institutions PWIs like the 5Cs. The hosts are committed to exploring all aspects of their first year at Scripps and have even brought on guests to share their own experiences during the pandemic.
According to Hu, many students faced their largest challenge in learning how to navigate college and adulthood all while still being stuck in their childhood bedrooms or hometowns this past year.
“The transition to being a college student has been pretty crazy for me,” Hu said. “Trying to embrace being in a college environment while we’re not actually in a college environment. It’s been a great experience, but definitely a different experience.”
Wend has found her first year especially difficult due to the ineffectiveness of school resources in bridging the gap between life on campus and life online. Like many other first-years in her class, it was difficult for her to make 5C friends outside of Zoom.
“I know [the administration] does their best to plan activities, but it’s always difficult to connect with the community when everything’s online. It’s hard to not feel awkward or stiff,” Wend said. “Even though I know that we have a lot of resources, sometimes it’s hard to know where to go or who to talk to about certain questions or more personal things.”
However, Wend and Hu refused to let the virtual year be a lonely experience. Hu explained that perseverance is now the prerequisite to being a member of the first-year class.
“We hope to use the podcast like a support group and time capsule for future and current classes all at once.”—Ellen Hu SC ’24
“Our class has gone through a lot over this year, and I’m not just referring to the pandemic,” Hu said. “During that time, so much has happened within politics, social justice, mental health and physical health. Our class is more motivated to share our perspectives and be able to make change within our community.”
The trailblazing spirit of the class of 2024 that Hu described was exactly the impetus that she and Wend needed to start their podcast, which aims to capture the experiences of their first-year class and other classes during a virtual semester.
“We worked really closely together to make sure that the podcast is capturing the ways that we are feeling about a lot of different situations we are going through right now, but also trying to bring in other guests and other Scripps students,” Hu said. “We hope to use the podcast like a support group and time capsule for future and current classes all at once.”
The hosts were excited to track the future of the class of 2024 through the podcast, but Wend also appreciates what the podcast offers in the present. She has personally benefited from the podcast throughout her first year even as a host. Wend was thankful for the prosocial structure the podcast has provided for her in ways that other online resources simply couldn’t.
“Doing the podcast has helped me stay social because it’s something that’s scheduled and routine,” Wend said. “You have to think about being social a lot more online, especially when you’re an introvert like me, but working on the podcast with [Hu] makes that easier.”
Hu seconded Wend, stating that there has been a deep connection made between the hosts and the listeners, making it less of a podcast and more of an online community for 5C first-years, and it’s all student-led.
“Because of the podcast, I feel more connected to our class through online platforms and sharing our work,” Hu said. “I noticed a lot of people can relate to what exactly we’re going through.”