This pandemic has thrown nearly every person in America, and quite frankly - the world, through a loop. And it continues to do so. It hasn't been easy. Many people have contracted the potentially-deadly virus, many people have lost their jobs, and many college graduates lost their graduations and job offers.
Needless to say, it's been challenging. As a soon-to-be senior, I cannot even begin to fathom what it would be like to go unrecognized for, quite literally, a lifetime of hard-work and dedication for many 20-somethings. And not just that, but many of these hardworking students lost the job offers they had literally spent their entire life working towards. These graduates were left, lost and forgotten, in a frightening world of chaos and sickness.
Despite all of this, though, they never lost their hope, their light, and the positive attitudes they were hired for in the first place. Many people criticized them for feeling upset about losing their graduations and job offers, calling them "unsympathetic" and "insensitive." But I wholeheartedly disagree.
Every graduate I know has expressed their gratefulness for society's increased health and safety, despite losing their graduations. They have showed nothing but strength and courage and respect. But no matter how strong and caring they are, they have every right to feel hurt and disappointed. Anyone who puts their hearts and souls into four years of hard work and dedication (or, arguably, their entire lives), deserves to be recognized.
And now, more than ever, they deserve the right to at least feel sad for not having that recognition. We live in crazy and unpredictable times, but one thing is for certain, human beings have risen up to show their strength and fortitude amidst a scary pandemic.
And after talking to one of my closest friends - Courtney, a Class of 2020 college graduate - it proved to me something I already knew (and something I think the whole world should know): The Class of 2020 is strong, caring, and we owe them a lot of respect for how they have handled this entire situation with grace and fortitude. Congratulations Class of 2020, you will have an overflowing abundance of resilience and perseverance that the work force has never seen before!
Here is everything Courtney had to say about ending her senior year virtually and graduating in the middle of a pandemic...
Where did you graduate from?
"Florida Gulf Coast University"
What was it like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
"It was probably one of the hardest stages of life I've been through so far. Everyone expects their last semester to be filled with fun and exciting times. Within a matter of weeks, everything that was central in my life (school, work, & spending time with friends) was taken away."
Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?
"I don't feel like I have closure. I wasn't able to say goodbye to my favorite professors & classmates or make any last college memories."
What has been a silver lining?
"The silver lining in this situation has been the fact that I've been able to build deeper relationships with some friends & family. Quarantine gave us more time to connect (virtually)."
What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?
"My university held a virtual graduation so I was able to wear my cap and gown, as well as spend the day with my family."
What are your next steps, and have they been impacted by coronavirus?
"Thankfully, the company I was interning with before the pandemic is essential, so they offered me a full-time position."
What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?
"Trying to make their pandemic situation seem worse than mine. Everyone is going through a rough time; do not try and compare your situation to mine."
What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the class of 2021?
"Try to make the most of your last year. It may not be how you expected it to be, but we're entering a "new normal" so take advantage of any opportunity you get to learn and make new memories."
What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most, for better or worse?
"I think I'll remember sitting on the couch every night & watching Netflix with my roommate because that was the only thing that brought me joy during quarantine... HAH!"
What is the biggest lesson/takeaway that came from this entire situation?
"Live everyday to the fullest because you never know if the next day will be spent in quarantine."