Campus & Community

Extending a hand

Student describes pandemic’s impact on his life — and how he’s giving back

3 min read
John Murray.

Photo courtesy of John Murray

This is part of a series called Postcards From Here, in which Harvard undergraduates talk about the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

John Murray ’23

Hometown: Boston
Concentration: Economics
House: Kirkland

So close, and yet so far

“Being from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, I am just a few Red Line stops away from Harvard and have had the opportunity to visit campus a couple times since we were sent home because of COVID. The atmosphere around Harvard Square is just not the same without the student body there. I can’t wait until we can all get back to campus safely.”

Remote ROTC

“Being a part of Harvard’s Army ROTC and men’s hockey programs have allowed me to continually stay in touch with a lot of my peers and teammates. Like most organizations on campus, we have been pushed to find new mediums to connect with each other like Slack and Zoom. Our leadership at Army ROTC has worked immensely hard to build a strong cohesion between all of the cadets in our program, and I have the opportunity to lead and mentor three freshmen cadets this semester. Outside of my mandatory ROTC duties, I work with a team of cadets to strategize and problem-solve for units in the United States Army that are executing critical missions.”

Exercising for the brain and body

“Along with my schoolwork, I work hard to keep up my physical fitness so that when ROTC and hockey do return in person, I am in shape to perform at a high level. I am also in the process of obtaining my Massachusetts real estate salesperson license so that has continued to keep me busy.”

Lending a hand at home

“I feel blessed that my family has continued to stay in good health, and thankfully my parents’ jobs were not directly impacted by COVID-19. My older brother Pat, who graduated from Harvard this past spring and was commissioned into the United States Army as a second lieutenant, had his report date pushed back but left for Fort Benning, Ga., in mid-October. My oldest brother Mike, who graduated from Harvard in 2017 and is a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, had minor disruptions to his work because of the outbreak.

Living in the city of Boston, I have seen the detrimental economic effects the virus has had on our communities. Many people lost their jobs and as a result their families are struggling to get by. To help, my mother and I have been volunteering at a local food pantry to ensure every family is receiving the assistance they deserve and need. At Harvard, we are provided with a world-class skill set. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we utilize those skills to give back and make this world a better place.”