GREAT FALLS — Throughout the summer, Great Falls High School graduate Zach Schermele has been working at KRTV behind the scenes and on the news staff. Due to COVID-19, his summer stay back here at home has been extended. The soon-to-be sophomore at Columbia University will continue classes right here in Great Falls, online. It's an adjustment in education that started back in the Spring.
"It was a great experience. I loved my first year. It's unfortunate that it was cut short,” he said.
The Ivy League education looks a little different virtually from Montana than on the New York City campus. Schermele said he hopes experiences in both places make him a more well-rounded person, but he’s glad to be back in Big Sky Country again for now.
"Coming back here, it was nice to get a taste of the open spaces again and the fresh air again,” Schermele said.
Course material, though, is only part of the college experience. "Sitting and listening to this person who knew so much about this topic who could just go on and on. He was encyclopedic. And that's not the same over Zoom. And being able to raise your hand and ask questions is not the same over Zoom,” Schermele explained.
He said he feels fortunate to have the resources to do online course work, even as his view of what college looks like has been forced to change.
"I wanted to go to the New York I signed up for, you know? I wanted to live in the New York I signed up for, and this is not what I signed up for unfortunately. I feel for all the people who have had to stay there."
In the meantime, he'll take classes, while also working on his career-focused job this fall.