Face masks have been our steady companions for almost one and a half years now. We wear them when we go grocery store shopping; we wear them when we go to class; we wear them in the lounges of our dorms, and sometimes, we even wear them outside. They come in different sizes, patterns, and colors, some with a wire clip, some without. They’ve become somewhat of a fashion item, too — these students of NJIT prove why.
Marian Siri, a 20-year-old junior majoring in computer science, got her mask from Amazon. “I needed a black mask and found one with a cute heart,” she recalled. It came in a pack of two for $8, and she has had them since the start of the pandemic — so for almost two years. “I’ve done everything with that mask,” she laughed and said.
Sujith Madanbhavi is 27 — which is, according to him, “way too old” — and in his 2nd year of his master’s in mechanical engineering. While visiting the Mills and Jersey Gardens with his friends, he got two camouflage masks at the Guess store last December for about $10. “I wanted something different,” Madanbhavi stated, “and I needed a metal strip on top of my nose to fold so that my glasses don’t fog.” If NJIT had camo masks with its logo and metal strips, he would definitely get those as well.
Ximena Martinez is 20 years old and a junior majoring in biology. Her mask has little band aids on it, and she basically got it for free. “I wish I could say that I was bitten by a chihuahua and that they gave it to me at the hospital,” she said. “But in reality, my roommate gave it to me.”
Miles Bardzilowski is a 22-year-old senior majoring in theater. His mask is from Old Navy and came in a bundle of ten for $25. He shared them with his dad because they both needed more masks in April 2021. “So, I took all the nice ones,” he said. “It’s interesting how masks are a fashion item.” But to him, masks are “more function than fashion.” As somebody with glasses, Bardzilowski needs wire and adjustable masks so he doesn’t have to clean his glasses too much. “If [the masks] look nice, it’s a plus.”
Jira Uttarapong is a 24-year-old senior majoring in computer science. The clear mask she’s wearing is called “Jelli”, and she got it online for $40. “I really like smiling and hate not being able to do so with a mask on,” she explained her decision to get a transparent mask. At first, Uttarapong wasn’t sure if it would be worth it, but she ultimately decided, “I really like it – it’s more comfortable, and my glasses don’t fog.” Even professors ask about her mask and where she got it. Every day, she cleans the mask with an alcohol wipe; every few days, she changes the filters on the side. “Right now, this is my only mask,” she said. “I might get another one and mess with it in the Makerspace, though.”