For the past four years, I’ve worked hard as a college student to make sure that I graduate, and that my hard work was not for nothing. I’ve been dreaming about my college graduation ceremony for a long time, and when I recently received my cap and gown in the mail I asked a friend to take my graduation photos with my mom. However, the graduation I’d hoped for since day one was taken from me, along with thousands of other seniors, right out of nowhere thanks to the outbreak of COVID-19, aka the Coronavirus.
At the end of the winter quarter, I was at the airport, heading out to Pennsylvania for a weekend trip to see my boyfriend. I was in the best mood possible, because I just had one more quarter left until graduation. But about an hour before I was about to board my plane, I received an email announcing that all courses at my school were going to be online. This had been a point of discussion in my last class the day before, but no one was sure it was going to actually happen. But as a performing arts major, how could they possibly turn put acting course online? I hoped for the best for things to work out, and that I’d still graduate on time.
When I landed in Charlotte, NC to make my connecting flight to Erie, PA, I’d received another email, along with several messages from my roommates, friends and co-workers from my work study. My school made the decision to not only postpone the start of spring quarter for an extra week, but they also canceled the commencement ceremonies for all campuses. I started crying, and I texted my mom and called my relatives immediately. It felt like I’d been stabbed in the chest; there I was, about to leave for one of the greatest trips of my life, and this devastating news put a damper on all my plans. I tried not to let it get to me and ruin my weekend with my boyfriend, and the trip was a good distraction from everything that was going on, but as soon as I got back home, it hit me that my senior year was cut short.
This commencement ceremony would have been the highlight of my senior year, and I feel defeated knowing that I’m not going to be able to walk across that stage and receive my diploma in front of my family, friends and peers. I understand that this decision was made for the safety of us students, and that other universities in the state of Georgia and beyond are facing this predicament, as well, but to have our final months of college ever be changed so quickly amazes me. It’s hard to believe that I’ll never walk into an academic building on campus ever again, and that I won’t get to say a proper goodbye to my professors and my best friends. It breaks my heart knowing that my final months at SCAD won’t be what I hoped they’d be, but I’m a person that likes to stay positive. I’m not letting anything stop me from having a good final year of college.
My friends–both from SCAD and from my hometown who are seniors–are so upset that they can’t have their graduations, but we all must do the best we can to make sure we still graduate, and not let our hard work be for nothing. I’m hoping that my graduation will end up being postponed, and not entirely canceled. But if it stays canceled, I’ll think of a way to celebrate. We can all find a way to celebrate us graduating and earning our diplomas. As seniors, whether high school or college, we should strive to make this final quarter or semester the best one possible. There may be some drastic changes happening, but that won’t keep us from earning our diplomas. Even if you’re not a senior, as a student you were probably forced to make a change of plans to the rest of your school year, as well. We just have to make ends meet and think positively; afterall, this won’t last forever.
I’m not sure what will happen in the near future, but the best we can do right now is stay safe. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and work on social distancing. The more we do this, the sooner this pandemic will be over, and the world can become a safer place. We’re all going to be okay.