Graduating feels wrong. I’m not sure how else to express it, but I really can’t wrap my head around the idea.
Maybe it’s the fact that COVID-19 pushed our semester back and we are usually done the third week of April. We aren’t used to being in school in May, and we definitely aren’t used to seeing our friends at other schools be done before us.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve only spent about a year and a half on campus. I was there freshman year, abroad sophomore year, and was sent home by COVID-19 about 75 percent of the way through junior year.
Maybe it’s the fact that I spent the first semester of my senior year at home.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never met any of the professors I’ve had this year and have spent the last year and a half on Zoom. I haven’t stepped foot in a Pepperdine classroom since March of 2020.
Maybe it’s the fact that even though I’m in Malibu I haven’t been able to hang out with my friends.
Maybe it’s the fact that even though I joined a sorority, I never got to experience their philanthropy event. Not to mention, I haven’t met the new members or the people who were abroad last year.
Maybe it’s the fact that we didn’t get to experience some Pepperdine traditions, like Senior Sunset or Rock the Brock.
Maybe it’s the fact that even though graduation is happening in person, not everyone’s family members or loved ones can come. Not to mention we have very little information about how it’s supposed to work and it’s a week away — we've been left absolutely clueless.
I’m not alone in this sentiment either. I asked a few friends why graduating feels wrong and this is what they had to say:
“As seniors, we were robbed of some of the most precious moments in college. It feels weird to not see so many of these beautiful people for such a long time, then suddenly we come back together for the first time literally for the purpose of ending our time here. There are so many gaps that will never be filled.”
“It feels as if this year didn’t happen at all, so how can I be graduating? Like, I’ve been in my bedroom for a year, it’s crazy that it was my senior year.”
“I never thought my senior year would be spent like this online. I still feel like I’m a first-year student deep down and the idea of graduating seems bizarre.”
"I was so excited to be a senior because when I was a freshman, I always thought my older friends seemed to have the most fun and go on the most adventures. I always hoped that would be me, but now it's my turn to graduate and I feel like I never got the chance to go all out. I wanted to do so much more."
“I think that graduation feels so normal, but life just isn’t normal right now... I’m internally conflicted. Basically, I am so excited to graduate, but I also feel bad because I know that other parts of the world/country are still struggling & don’t get to have in person graduation.”
“Our senior year doesn’t feel ‘complete’. Usually, we have several senior events that lead up to graduation and make us cherish the ‘last’ of everything. This year — we close our laptops and it’s over. We are ready to move on to what’s next, but as we look behind us at the senior year we had, it doesn’t feel like it even happened.”
“It feels like a whole year and a half was taken from our ‘college experience’ and it feels like we shouldn’t be graduating already. However, it’s exciting to look toward the future and to look back on all the good memories!”
“Our senior year is supposed to be filled with memories we will remember forever with friends who will be friends for a lifetime. Instead, I just have memories of my family in my house. It will be weird to go back to Pepperdine just to graduate since I said my final goodbyes to the campus over a year ago.”
“Graduating feels wrong because when I pictured graduating and my senior year it wasn’t this. I still haven't done all the things I planned on experiencing my senior year, I had all my last campus and normal college moments a year early and now graduating feels off, or incomplete.”
Elizabeth (EJ) Hyde
“Being back in Malibu for the semester and being fortunate enough to have had a few of my classes resume in-person meetings again have both hit me harder than I expected. More than just how incredible it has been to experience again the normal Pepperdine I have loved over the past four years, returning has made me realize just how much we’ve missed in the last year due to COVID-19. It’s bittersweet — we’ll never get that time and those potential memories back, but at the same time, I’m all the more grateful for the time I did have and those memories I did make, which will really be what I remember about Pepp once we’ve graduated.
“The fact that we are graduating this month is still a strange idea to me. It feels weird to gather together to celebrate a year we didn’t experience together, and it feels even weirder to do this when it’s so restrictive to people without vaccine access. Despite this, I’m glad to be doing it. I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say it’s time to move on to a new season of life, and graduation serves as a physical representation of this transition. Perhaps this ceremony will be the closure we need.”
Though it’s not how we expected our college experience to conclude, and feels somewhat wrong, I’m proud of us for graduating. We did it. Congratulations, Class of 2021!