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Unexpected shutdown: transferring to Miami due to COVID

Imagine if, one day, the students of Miami University woke up to find an email from President Crawford saying that Miami would be closing after 211 years of being an active university. No more Miami classes. No more Miami professors. No more Miami organizations. No more Miami, period. 

This is the fate that Urbana University, located in Urbana, Ohio, was met with this year. After 170 years of operating, the school — which was home to 1,359 students — announced on April 22 that it would no longer be an active university and would help students transfer schools.

The school had already faced financial difficulties in the past. In 2014, they were purchased by Franklin University after falling on hard financial times. But the school just couldn’t handle the blow of the coronavirus. Low enrollment and losses due to COVID-19 caused the school to close its doors forever. 

With the abruptness of Urbana closing, students were left wondering where they would go. What was next? 

Two such students, liberal studies major Jade Laviolette and kinesiology major Britney Bonno who had been roommates and played softball at Urbana, had to face a tough decision: where were they going to go for their final year of school and softball? 

“I cried for three days,” Laviolette said of how difficult the news was to swallow. 

Bonno had already picked her classes for her senior year and was looking forward to being with her teammates and playing her final season. 

“I was shocked,” Bonno said. “I didn’t think the whole school would just shut down.” 

She immediately took to Twitter, writing that she was seeking a new place to call her home for her last year of college.

“There was a lot of thinking I had to do,” Bonno said. 

Many of her friends retweeted her message, and she had gained a lot of support. Finally, her efforts paid off: Miami Hamilton’s softball coach reached out to her and asked if she would like to play for the team. Bonno jumped at the opportunity. 

“Miami just seemed like a good fit for me,” Bonno  said. 

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With Bonno set to go to Miami Hamilton, Laviolette wanted to join her. She had been Bonno’s roommate and friend for a few years, and she wanted to be with her for their senior year. So, she had her coach at Urbana message Miami Hamilton’s coach about joining the team. It worked out, as Miami took her as well. 

It hasn’t been easy to adjust to their loss, however the pair are making the most of their time in Oxford and the Miami community. 

They are looking forward to playing on Miami Hamilton’s softball team in the spring and hope the team can become as much of a home as Urbana was to them. 

“I just keep reminding myself, when one door closes, another door opens. I love the atmosphere of Miami, and it’s helped me tremendously to keep a positive outlook on the situation,” Bonno said. 

Life threw Bonno and Laviolette a curveball, but they won’t let that stop them from hitting a home run with Miami.

owenip@miamioh.edu

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