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How Teaching Instructor Natalie Moore-Bembry is Coping During COVID-19
May 8, 2020

We're checking in with our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends on the front lines of social work during this historic time. We hope their stories will provide many lessons for future generations of social workers. If you would like to share your story, please contact our communications team at lzazenski@ssw.rutgers.edu.

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Teaching Instructor Natalie Moore-Bembry is Assistant Director of Student Affairs and the Camden Campus Coordinator at Rutgers School of Social Work. She shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting her teaching and personal life. 

How has your work been impacted by COVID-19?
Since I am in Student Affairs, I mainly work directly with students, so moving to phone calls only has been somewhat of a challenge. I am not accustomed to the Zoom/WebEx meetings as I hate being on camera. It was heartbreaking to cancel the Phi Alpha Induction Ceremony as the students worked hard to achieve that honor, and we worked hard to organize an event that would recognize their accomplishments. I believe one of my biggest challenges is balancing being home with my daughters who are engaged in synchronous learning. The struggle to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing when they are supposed to be doing it, while making sure I get my work done. It has been quite the challenge.  

How have you handled moving your class(es) online?
I was fortunate enough to be teaching in the online program this semester so I did not experience any changes, but I have spoken with and assisted my colleagues who have made the move. Change is not easy, especially when you are forced, but we all are doing the best we can given the current circumstances.

Have you noticed any positive things that have come out of the pandemic?
Getting to spend more time with my family. I have had the chance to spend time playing, laughing, and hanging out with my daughters, which is usually time limited with our "normal" schedule. I am able to do the things I’ve wanted to do but just did not have the time or energy for – I started an herb garden and a lettuce garden, and I finally have a consistent exercise regime!

Are you doing anything specific to help you cope?
To help me cope, I pray more, and my faith has been at the forefront. I also enjoy listening to music and have found Club Quarantine with D-Nice to offer a good therapeutic and aerobic break. I get plenty of steps dancing around my house.

How has social work prepared you to handle this crisis?
As social workers, we often see crises and find ways to help others. We need to seize the moment and think about all of the assistance, professional advice, and support we provide to others and begin to implement the same strategies for ourselves. I have learned over the years that social workers are only as good as their own crisis management and self-care. If we lack in those areas we will struggle and could invoke undue harm on others.

What advice would you give to our current students who are dealing with a variety of challenges?
Take a minute to stop and breathe! We are all in this together. If you need to cry, laugh, smile, go for a jog, eat, sleep, dance – go for it! We need to have healthy outlets to deal with the stressors we are experiencing. As Maya Angelou so eloquently stated, "Every storm runs out of rain." This storm will eventually end, but until then, please stay safe and healthy.

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