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Navigating Graduation and Your Future During a Global Pandemic

     I have been looking towards my graduation since my freshman year of college. I have always looked forward to the next accomplishment, to where I am supposed to be, out in the real world, walking the streets of a big city and living my best life. The day I walk across the stage at Ferrell Center in my black gown and Baylor green stole was serving as a reminder of what I was working so hard for, no matter what was going on in my life. 

     Then COVID-19 hit, and our worlds turned my dreams into a distant reality. After months of online classes, Zoom meetings, and canceled events, the new world of digital everything is making me lose hope in the future that my eager freshman-self planned.

     With my college graduation creeping around the corner in May 2021, I know that I am not alone in the fear of our graduation ceremonies being canceled, as Spring, Summer, and Fall graduates of this year can attest to. But the concern of what comes next post-graduation stands as a bigger concern to me as the pandemic continues to affect our lives. 

     As so many people know, COVID-19 has not been kind to recent graduates, employees, and well, basically everyone. People I know have struggled to find work, as most places are not looking to hire new people while furloughing or firing others. My TikTok FYP is filled with young people like me struggling to find work in this seemingly never-ending year, and it scares me endlessly.

     I have always been a planner. I have had this timeline of what my life is supposed to be like, from high school to now. It has been interrupted and changed, but in the end, after all of this has passed and we can talk about the year 2020 without cringing or crying, we as college students will be remembered as resilient in the face of challenge. It wasn’t easy changing our entire college lives. From freedom to social-distancing and online classes we persevered through all of this change, and that will prove beneficial for us in the future. 

     But for now, what remains on the other side of graduation in the real-world? Do I take my chances at the diminishing job market? Do I continue my education with grad school? Or should I take a gap year and wait for the world to return to normalcy?

     One thing that this pandemic has taught me, is that I am adaptive in the face of challenge. As I apply for graduate school and scan the web for jobs, I know that I will come out of Baylor stronger because of COVID. Being a college student during this time has been difficult, but it has also brought me closer to my passions and affirmed that my future is bright.

     COVID, thank you for challenging me, but it’s time for you to go. 

Chantal Canales is a senior journalism new media major at Baylor University. She is from McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. When she is not editing articles, she loves getting coffee with friends, reading books, discovering new places in Waco, and working at Fabled Bookshop and Cafe. She hopes to work as a book agent for a publishing house or as a magazine editor after her graduation in May 2021.
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