WHS Alum Jack McGinn Reflects on WHS and Shares His Covid Experience in College

Tommy McGinn '23, Contributing Writer

High school can be a strange place for some. These are the years when you start to figure out what you want to do, and who you are. Jack McGinn, a Class of 2019 graduate of WHS, describes his experience in Westborough, provides advice to current students, and gives insight on what it is like to have COVID-19.

McGinn participated in baseball and basketball during his underclassmen years, was a member of the Lobby-O, and the President and Vice President of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). These clubs also helped McGinn find a lot of meaningful relationships. He’ll always look back fondly on his time in them he states.

Entering high school as a freshman, McGinn wishes he had more confidence. He was first intimidated by upperclassmen and didn’t feel comfortable in heterogenous classes and clubs.

“If I had been more confident and comfortable with myself early on I think I would’ve enjoyed my time as an underclassman as much as I did as an upperclassman,” McGinn says.

For freshmen and sophomores, McGinn’s advice is: “Never think you’re not good enough for a position, club, or social circle. Confidence goes a long way.”

Journalism is a course that Jack grew to love at WHS. McGinn says his Journalism classes shaped the way he looks at the world around him today, especially during these unprecedented times. It shaped how he forms views on major news and issues, and he definitely became more politically engaged because of journalism. McGinn urges people who may be interested to take Journalism I.

Reflecting on his time at Westborough, McGinn states, “Students at WHS are lucky to go there. I didn’t realize until getting to college how well WHS prepares students, and how fortunate we are to have the opportunities WHS provides.”

His senior year, McGinn decided to go to The University Of Massachusetts Amherst. McGinn wasn’t very excited to go to UMass at first, but he recalls going in with an open mind, grateful for the opportunity to attend a good college. The prospect of seeing familiar faces meant a great deal for him, and the fact that many Westborough graduates attend UMass makes it a little easier to get used to the whole college experience.

McGinn described transitioning from high school to college as a crazy transition socially because it was such an immediate change the second you show up. Academically, the change wasn’t bad, because WHS does a great job preparing students. Adjusting to the freedom, and learning to manage time, were the biggest challenges, he says.

Like all students, McGinn’s college experience changed when Covid-19 struck in mid-March. UMass moved to an all-online teaching system. McGinn states that his workload has been more arduous, his social life has been limited to a much smaller circle, and his motivation to do class work has decreased. These aren’t unusual feelings towards online schooling as many students find this new normal to be very challenging.

UMass students get tested for Covid twice weekly, but the school’s asymptomatic testing is allegedly only 45% accurate. A friend of McGinn’s tested negative multiple times, and McGinn continued to hang out with him before finding out the friend had received at least two false negatives. In fact, this friend had Covid, and McGinn was infected, too.

After quarantining and making a full recovery, McGinn gained new insight into COVID-19. His isolation lasted 10 days from when he first tested positive. The symptoms lasted for six days, aside from loss of taste and smell, which were still partially ongoing. The first symptoms he noticed were fatigue and body aches. Additionally, a loss in sense of taste and smell. He also felt short of breath for several days. As McGinn reflects on his experience, one lesson is that a negative test doesn’t always mean a negative result.

McGinn laid out some analytics: Even if Covid is unlikely to kill people our age, it can harm those older than us. It may not seem too serious, until it actually affects a loved one. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take it seriously.

The most shocking thing to McGinn was how easily Covid spreads. When he was infected, everyone in his house and social circle got it, even though they were being careful about social distancing and following quarantine and isolation orders after contracting it.

During the pandemic, McGinn has become more independent living off campus, and has recently started to apply for internships in the economic/business field. McGinn is studying business and majoring in finance.

Even though COVID-19 has ruined many plans and events recently, especially for the upperclassmen, having a positive outlook on the situation is necessary to get through. McGinn hopes his experience can help people to understand the importance of keeping everyone safe, and that getting the virus doesn’t make you a bad person or such. McGinn has been speaking out about his experience in hope of helping others, and urges others will do the same.