Life changed dramatically when campus life came to a halt. Here’s a look at how one student navigated the challenges and found a sense of normalcy in his work and play
When Lafayette transitioned to remote learning, most students returned home—but not all. Basit Balogun ’21 was one of 200 students who received special permission to remain on campus due to inability to relocate. The Nigerian native/New York resident not only had to transition to online learning, but had to adjust to an entirely new lifestyle filled with downtime—a foreign concept for the always-hustling computer science major.
In his roles as a Posse Scholar, director of the Student Government Academic Affairs Committee, student associate on the Board of Trustees committee on financial policy, treasurer of the Muslim Student Association, and teaching assistant for data structures and algorithms, Balogun never had much free time. He usually filled any gaps in his schedule with experiential learning and events at the Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or playing basketball, soccer, and ping pong at Kirby Sports Center. With those buildings closed due to the pandemic, Balogun’s Lafayette home, the African House in the College’s Monroe neighborhood, became his residence, classroom, study spot, social hub, and rec center.
Despite the stress and uncertainty he has faced, Balogun has worked to make the best of his situation.
Aside from Farinon food runs (he grabbed Dining Services’ to-go meals for lunch and dinner) and occasional visits to the Quad for “much-needed sunlight,” Balogun spent most of his days in front of his computer doing coursework and maintaining involvement in his leadership roles. “Overall, I have been fortunate to be able to live a somewhat normal life as a software engineer [computer science major], which is considerably easier to achieve as someone who is accustomed to spending a huge chunk of his time in front of a computer.”
“Playing soccer reminds me of simpler times before I came to the U.S. five years ago. Beyond video games, it was the only common language spoken by my cousins and peers when I was in Nigeria. Though I have not been able to continue playing soccer at a competitive level due to medical reasons, I still continue to play because it reminds me of the bond I shared with my cousins in Nigeria. I’m glad that I can still find solace in this sport with my housemates.”
“The pandemic really pushed me to put a lot of weight on my future career. I felt it was more important considering that it would be more challenging to secure job opportunities due to the circumstances.” That drive enabled Balogun to obtain a remote internship at a startup company working as a data analyst, but unfortunately, due to pandemic-related cutbacks at the company, Balogun was furloughed after three weeks.
Not one to sit well with idle time, Balogun funneled his energy into two other projects:
“We usually have game nights with an inner circle of friends—about six of us who live together, including Saeed Malami ’20, Erik Laucks ’20, and fellow Posse Scholar Jimmy Barrios ’22. This has all made it easier for me to remain at home while still having sufficient interaction with people. We mostly play video games, as we have an Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Oculus Quest VR. Some of the games we’ve played include FIFA, Mario Kart, and Fortnite. We also play card games.”
Balogun is remaining on campus this summer. His agenda—no surprise—is full and ambitious.