Neeyah Mitchell ’24 and Trezure Price ’24 put a clever spin on COVID-19 mitigation strategies
ALMA – When Neeyah Mitchell and Trezure Price were given the news that they were not going to be able to walk for their graduation from Fitzgerald High School, in Warren, last spring due to COVID-19, they knew they had to do something to lift their spirits.
Mitchell and Price, who are now first-year students at Alma College, decorated the face coverings they were required to wear at Fitzgerald’s altered, drive-through graduation ceremony.
Since arriving at Alma, the two have continued to wear decorated face coverings around campus — a delightful self-expression that has caught the attention of classmates, college staff and teammates on the Alma cheer, STUNT and Spirit Squad teams.
“It started right when quarantine happened and when everything was starting to change with graduation,” Price said. “Everyone was getting upset, and I just had an idea: We should have cute masks at graduation. People really loved it then, and it has just carried on since that time.”
The pair’s fashion statements quickly caught the attention of their friends in Warren, and they started making custom face coverings for others, in addition to themselves.
Once Mitchell, a business administration major, and Price, a psychology major, made it to Alma for the start of the fall semester, they realized they didn’t have enough time to make their own face coverings anymore. So, they looked to their family members for help.
“Classes came first,” Mitchell said. “I would have loved to have kept making face coverings for myself, but Alma College keeps you busy enough. My mom started getting them custom-made at a small business in our hometown. I would give her my ideas and she would have the face coverings mailed to me.”
Mitchell and Price are hard to miss, even in a crowd. The majority of their face covering decorations include glitter and rhinestones, as well as various different fabrics. The decorations usually involve some form of Scots spirit, with a message like “Go Alma!” or the school color, maroon.
Some of their face coverings include their first names, because according to Mitchell and Price — who have gone to school together since they were elementary students and share godparents — they are often mistaken for one another.
The strategy has worked. Mitchell and Price are instantly recognizable around campus, they say, and everyone from faculty to food service staff has expressed appreciation for their creative face coverings.
“Ever since the pandemic started, I told myself I don’t want to be normal and wear something like a plain blue mask. If I have to wear it, I want to wear some glitter and express myself,” said Mitchell said. “I don’t want to just be a person. I want to make my mark.”
Mitchell and Price say the college’s mandates regarding face coverings make them feel safer on campus, which they appreciate. Their families appreciate it, too.
“My family is telling my younger cousins, now, ‘You should go to Alma,’ because they feel like we’re safer here on campus than we are at home. They feel like we’re in good hands here, even though we’re far away,” Price said.