Interview of Katie Donell

“I think that part of the reason why we’ve been successful as a college has been the the sense of community. I think that has been to our benefit and I think taking that a step further, is trying to do your part for the greater good of people.”

Katie Donell is a Merrimack College alum and has worked in the Stevens Service Learning Center since 2009. Shortly after acquiring her M.Ed., she was elevated to assistant director in 2014. She currently oversees the Lawrence Math and Science Partnership and Merrimack Academic Partnership programs.

This interview goes through many different topics surrounding Donell and her family’s experiences with the pandemic. This includes her family’s adjustment to lockdown and their experiences both selling and building a home during the pandemic. In the interview, Donell also talks about the changes that had to be made to service learning during the early days of the pandemic as well as specific challenges that emerged.


Alexander Moore: And what was going on in your life just prior to the pandemic?

Katie Donell: Prior to the pandemic? Just kind of the day to day of managing the student volunteers, managing the van drivers, that was another big component of my—of my position and then personally, we were selling our house right before the pandemic happened.

AM: Oh!

KD: Yeah. So, from that perspective I can definitely, depending upon the questions I have an interesting—probably home story–


KD: –of what kind of happened throughout the pandemic, but I mean all of a sudden, for us, we were in—you guys were about to go on to spring break and when we weren’t sure what was going to happen. It was kind of a normal semester with—Christmas came and it was like, oh this–the pandemic, or it’s starting to spread in China, we’re like, okay, whatever we’re keeping an eye on it. And then we got the email from administration thinking, oh we’ll just close for a little bit, and then lo and behold, we were stuck at home for—up until, I think, what, mid-summer. For us as employees, we came back in the middle of the summer to kind of get the semester going again.

AM: You said you had a good anecdote about selling your home at the beginning of the pandemic, would you like to explain that?

KD: So yeah, we sold our house. We put our house on the market kind of right before—we had people in our house. Kind of pre-COVID or not even really understanding what it is, I mean we had, I would say about 10 to 15 showings in one week–it was showing after showing. This is before masks and all that kind of stuff so we didn’t even think about it, and then we sold our house in the middle of the pandemic and moved around Easter time. Kind of right in the thick of not really sure what to do, kind of moving forward with masks, or you should stay home, or even wear gloves in the grocery store. I saw people all PP, what is it, PPE? Wearing all kinds of stuff to the grocery store, so yeah it was definitely an interesting time because, we had all those people through our house without even knowing about it so that was definitely interesting for our family.

Interview Details

The interview was conducted over remotely over Zoom from Danvers, MA, and Lunenburg, MA, on 11/30/21 by Alexander Moore.

Accession Number


This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.