For many people, it’s easy to feel alone and isolated from their peers during this time of quarantine. University of Connecticut sociology and journalism senior Jamiah Bennett is working to combat that through her new podcast Expect the Unexpected.

Originally covering ways college students can practice self-care, Bennett decided to change the topic to focus more on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting others, young people in particular. It combines professional interviews with student stories of how they are coping with quarantine and social distancing.

“Most stories cover the medical aspects [of the pandemic] and how it affects older people,” Bennett said. “A lot of them don’t show college students in the greatest light.”

The podcast itself is the product of an independent study Bennett did with UConn Journalism professor Marie Shanahan. Bennett took Shanahan’s Intro to Podcasting class last semester and decided she wanted to start her own.

At first, Bennett was able to use the microphones and soundproof rooms the UConn Journalism Department offers to students to produce the podcast. But when UConn transitioned to online-learning only in mid-March due to the pandemic, she had to figure out how to make it work from her own home.

“I was nervous at first since I no longer had access to the better equipment at school,” Bennett said. She conducts all of her interviews over the phone and puts everything together on her computer. Shanahan also helps with the sound editing and provides feedback throughout the process.

Bennett plans to release new episodes every Tuesday, and has put out two so far. She wants to keep going with the podcast even after the pandemic is over, covering unexpected situations people run into in life. For now, though, she said she just wants people to feel comfortable sharing their stories and being vulnerable.

“I do want to raise morale and educate people, but also make them understand it’s okay to feel how they’re feeling and that they have a community,” Bennett said. “The podcast is geared towards college students, but is something everyone can learn from and relate to.”

Expect the Unexpected can be found on Anchor Podcasts and Spotify.

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