July 2020
Five 5 Quarantine Takeaways and Silver Linings
None of us expected to have life as we know it upended and suddenly be restricted on where we could go and what we could do as a result of a pandemic. There were, and are still, a lot of unknowns. However, not all of the unexpected was negative. FAME's College Access and Financial Education team weighs in this month on some unanticipated silver linings.
1. More Time With Family

College Planning Advisor Floreka Malual is grateful for the slower pace and healthy work environment that means more time with her infant son. She enjoys staying connected to co-workers and students via Zoom and phone and being able to attend more online training from home and host events. “The silver lining, during quarantine, is spending more time with my 11-month-old. Before all of this, we had a busy morning from daycare drop off to heading to meetings with students or events. Our life was hectic and I liked it. Now, fast forward, we've been working from home more than usual, and adjusting to working while taking care of an infant has brought me joy.”
2. Establishing New Routines

“Somehow, the pandemic made me into a morning person,” says Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor. She finds herself getting up earlier and starting her day with more of a routine. “When this started, I wore pajamas all day unless there was a Zoom meeting, then it was the business mullet; a nice shirt on top, PJs on the bottom.” But that got old fast, and after a couple of weeks, she started waking earlier, really getting dressed, making coffee, and writing down her to-do list for the day before starting work. “I’m now starting the work day more ready and relaxed, something I hope continues beyond the pandemic.”
3. Learning New Technologies

Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor, is grateful both personally and professionally to have become more familiar with video tools like Zoom. “Professionally, I was able to still present virtually at schools that I could not be at in person and was able to send a recording of the presentations to the organizer. I’ve received many follow up emails and calls from those that could not make the live event but was so happy that they were able to view it at their leisure.” The benefits extend beyond work, having allowed her to also safely connect with family. “Personally, I’ve been having regular family meetings online which has been wonderful. I’ve seen my family more in the last few months than I have in years!”
4. Positive Financial Shifts

Despite the many challenges that we have faced related to COVID-19, Financial Education Officer Mary Dyer shared some unexpected personal finance wins. “While many Mainers have experienced significant financial hardship, others have also witnessed a major shift in their daily spending. Reduced commuting and work-related expenses, fewer meals out, and reductions in discretionary spending have allowed for many individuals to refocus their savings efforts and evaluate their overall spending habits. There is also a newfound emphasis on the importance of financial education. Now, more than ever, we understand the critical need to equip people with the knowledge and skills that will be needed to manage future financial challenges. Most of all, I have been incredibly impressed with Maine’s personal finance and economics teachers who, during this time of distance learning, have stepped up in countless ways to support students and to strengthen their own personal finance lesson plans and teaching strategies.”
5 . New Skills for Children

The last few months have unexpectedly offered more time for learning and making connections. During COVID-19, my daughters began to email their older aunts and uncles. It started as a way to improve their atrocious email skills, disguised as “checking-in” on those that might be a little more isolated during this time,” says Jessica Whittier, College Access Counselor. What started as a learning exercise turned into a daily correspondence with many of their extended family members. They share thoughts and hopes and fears in these emails and are building new friendships to ease the loss of the peer friendships they were missing during schooling from home. She noted that their email writing skills have improved greatly as well.
For additional helpful information and resources, find  previous issues of 5 on the 5th on our website.

FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:

Mary Dyer , Financial Education Officer
Maria MacDougal , College Access Counselor
Floreka Malual , College Planning Advisor
Nikki Vachon , College Access Counselor
Jessica Whittier , College Access Counselor 
Mila Tappan , College Access and Outreach Manager
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