Niko Kritikos, Business Marketing

Students find silver lining in their unprecedented COVID summers

Niko Kritikos packed his bags, jumped in a car and headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for what he thought would be a relaxing spring break with friends last March.

Two days later, the trip was canceled and the group began to make its way back home as the nation began shutting down to control COVID-19.

“One of the parents called and said that [we] have to come back because they’re starting to shut down the borders on states, and so we had to drive all the way back,” said Kritikos. “They told us that we weren’t going to be able to get back to Indiana unless we left that night.”

The date was March 23. The threats of shutting down borders between states did not immediately materialize, but Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb did impose a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The promise of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and fun in the sun for Kritikos ended abruptly.

A senior business marketing major at Purdue University Northwest, Kritikos likes to stay busy. By the age of 18, Kritikos had already established two businesses, one providing guitar lessons to local aspiring musicians and the other a ride-sharing service. Both have taken a hit since the lockdown.

Even so, Kritikos largely remains positive.

“I think the main thing is trying to get your mind off of it and find things to do to make up for what you have to sacrifice,” he said.

Kritikos focused on the things he could control. He started walking and exercising. He even picked up a position with DoorDash, where, interestingly enough, he has made more money than he was making prior to the pandemic.

From Niko’s mother Jo’s perspective, this is exactly what her son needed.

“I didn’t want him to be stuck in the house,” she said. “I feel bad for him, but I hope when this is over we can take a family trip.”

Maybe to those sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.