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Graduating In A Year-Long Pandemic

To say most don’t know how their senior year is going to go is an understatement. When I graduated from high school, the difference between my freshman self compared to my senior self was obvious in a good way. I had matured, physically and emotionally—still starry-eyed about my journey ahead. When college came around, I would say that every year was a year of growth and change. I was very different as each new semester started, and growth was accelerated. With my foot on the gas, I didn’t see the crash up ahead. 

A year can be a long time. In March 2020—the end of my junior year of college—I could not have foreseen the journey up ahead. Change after each semester was expected, but this was too much change. Going from being a person who was on campus for at least 8 hours a day, four days a week to being stationary—it does something to you. Stuck at home. Feeling useless. A few weeks turned to many, to months, and of course—a year. I could almost laugh at how I told myself that it would be over by the end of the year. I felt like a fish trapped in a glass bowl for the first time in my life; stuck inside while the world was exploding in sickness, injustice, and politics.

What was my purpose if I was stuck inside? I am obviously still a student. I kept up with my classes, receiving good grades and never getting below a B. I even continued on through the summer, never taking a break. I kept reassuring myself that things would be normal soon. As time grew on longer, I grew more worried about how the pandemic might affect my academic and work career. Yes, I managed to get at least one internship and my teachers assured me this digital method might be the new normal for people in my field. Part of me couldn’t help but shake the feeling that my experience was being stunted compared to those before me.

Class of 2020 got their full education without a commencement—was class of 2021 doomed to have the vice versa?

Photo by Edwin Hooper from Unsplash

That’s why I am so thankful for my time at Her Campus USF. Connections and friends are what will get you by in life—even if they are behind screens. By working and staying busy in new ways through Her Campus and other extracurricular activities, I feel as though maybe I am ready to take on the world. 

Collaborating, talking, and working towards a common goal was what I needed. Without having those resources, I cannot fathom how even more scared I would feel entering the workforce after such a lackluster school year. 

I have also come to a realization, while my title of “student” may be expiring, I am never done learning. I’ll learn new things- whether it be through a job, internship, or if I even do the research myself. There are plenty of online courses and workshops available to those who have already graduated with their Bachelor’s. 

By reflecting and coming to this realization, I feel less nervous about the future and more optimistic. Sure I don’t know what my future holds, but after being in a pandemic, I’ve learned not to stress on long-term goals either. Instead, I have short-term goals in mind for now. 

All I know is what type of person I want to be, and how excited I am to be able to experience things again. I hope my thoughts and feelings can be relatable to another graduate out there, as we finally see a window out from these turbulent times. I know for sure that after a time like this, I will be less persuaded to stand aside and instead, make things happen.

USF class of 2021 Advertising and PR integrated major. Minor in Studio Art and certificate of Visualization and Design.
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