Creighton Connections: CCAS student Donna Shahbazi
Creighton Connections: CCAS student Donna Shahbazi

In Creighton Connections, we speak with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends about their experiences living in the new normal. All interviews are, of course, conducted over the phone or online.  

Check out the Creighton Connections archive to see how other Bluejays are adapting to life under COVID-19.

Want to share your story? Contact micahmertes [at] creighton [dot] edu

Donna Shahbazi

Shahbazi, former CSU president, is a senior majoring in health administration and policy.

How has life changed for you in the past few weeks? 

I went home to Kansas City, Missouri, for a little bit. Life has slowed down a lot, but I know with online instruction beginning this week, some routine will come back. My church is doing 21 days of prayer, and yesterday’s verse got me journaling about how this is an interesting transition I’m facing.

In June, I’m moving across the country to live alone and start law school — something I was anxious about doing as I’ve never left the Midwest and have always had a community within at least 178 miles. I knew that soon enough I would need to get used to being alone more than I have been in the past. As odd as it is, this time of social isolation has been preparing my heart for the new season of life I will be embarking on this summer. I guess that’s a plus side to this whole thing!

What are you feeling right now, having to complete your final semester online?

To be honest, I’m nervous. I don’t register for virtual courses for a reason. I miss my professors. I miss the Reinert-Alumni Memorial Library. By no surprise, however, my professors have made the transition as smoothly as possible, and it’s clear that they’ve been working day in and day out to prepare us for this time of online instruction. One of my professors even recorded a “welcome back” message, and it was so good to hear her voice. As many seniors will tell you, this all comes with the shock of not being able to personally thank our professors or have that realization that we were sitting in our “last class” — for some students, their last Creighton class ever.

If you have extra downtime, how are you using it?

I’ve spent a lot of time reading scripture, going on walks, reading books off of my bucket list, FaceTiming friends, baking and, of course, watching too many hours of TikTok

What’s been the most surprising thing about life under COVID-19?

The role media has been playing in all of this and societies’ reactions.

What are you most worried about right now?

The physical health of our friends around the world, the mental health of my generation, the economy and the uncertainty of when this will all be over.

What are you most hopeful for?

1. Healing
2. When it’s safe to return to our typical daily lifestyles, I’m hopeful that our society will have a new perspective on life. My bible study leader texted me this the other day: “When we strip back to necessities only, what is revealed?” I think that’s a powerful question, and I’m hopeful that priorities and perspectives will change for the better.

Watching any good TV shows or reading any good books?

I just finished watching the Netflix series “When They See Us,” which is about the Central Park Five. If you want to be reminded of the racial injustices in our criminal justice system and feel a charge and drive to make a change any way you can, watch this show.

What’s the one thing you’d like to teach yourself while society is shut down?

ASL! I’ve always wanted to learn, and it’s my goal to teach myself a solid foundation of American Sign Language and continue that, even when we’re back to our routine lives.

Who do you miss seeing in person the most?

Anyone and everyone who works in the Division of Student Life: Dr. Bogard, Dr. Winegard, Tina Fussell, Jack Robertson …  people whose offices I would usually peek my head into when I was “in the neighborhood.”

What’s something you wanted to do this year that you won’t get to?

I think the obvious answers are commencement, formals, research presentations, retreats, etc. But I’d say I wanted to watch the Creighton Bluejays play the Kansas Jayhawks in the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, and now I won’t get to.

As a Creighton leader (and former CSU president), what would you want to tell your fellow students right now?

As frustrating as it is to lose the last quarter of this year, we’re all in this together. A very important woman in my life reminded me, in a time of anger and sadness, of two things:

1. If canceling this celebration and many others like it saves lives by flattening the curve, then aren’t we all for that? Wouldn’t Jesus be?

2. If (insert event that you’re now missing) is the highlight of your world even right now, is that a fair commentary on your life? The rest of your life is the best of your life.

Whatever emotion you’re feeling right now, it’s more than OK, and you’re definitely not alone. I’d encourage you not to hold it in, though – share with a friend or journal it. 

We’re going to get through this, it’s going to be worth it. Jays fly high and they fly together. Remember that.

Interview conducted March 26, 2020 

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