2020 has taught us all to expect the "unexpected." In November of 2019, it was believed that the first few cases of the deadly Coronavirus were spotted in Wuhan, China. But, it wasn't until January of this year that COVID-19 hit the scene in America. By spring break, millions of American college, high school, and grade school students were preparing to complete their semesters at home. With stay-at-home orders, celebrations were one of the first things to go. The class of 2020 missed many of the moments our older friends and loved ones cherished, like graduate ceremonies and parties.
To gain some insight, I decided to interview a Class of 2020 graduate to hear first-hand how she handled such a rough year. Lauren B., a friend and former Odyssey Rep for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), was so kind to answer all the questions I had about her last months as an undergrad during a global pandemic.
1. Where did you graduate from?
"The University of North Carolina at Greensboro."
2. What was it like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the Coronavirus pandemic?woman hug each other Photo by Hian Oliveira on Unsplash
"It was definitely strange. This was my first semester in college without any online classes, so getting used to having that day to day, in-person interaction then switching to essentially an independent study for most of my classes was something that took some getting used to. I did get to use my extra free time with family and working on skills though, so that was nice."
3. Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?band performing on stage in front of people Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Unsplash
"Missing out on the campus events was definitely the most difficult. April is our busiest month [at UNCG], and as someone who's worked in the programs office for three years, this was a last hoorah I was looking forward to."
4. What has been a silver lining?man holding incandescent bulb Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash
"The silver lining I've focused on is learning my adaptability and innovation in such a difficult situation."
5. What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?man wearing academic robe and hat Photo by Terrence Thomas on Unsplash
"A few of my teachers had zoom parties, but I haven't done much in the sense of "making up" so much as just letting the situation be what it is."
"I'm still in search of a job, which has been affected in that some positions have been put on hold and most of my interviews have been virtual, but that's all that has been directly impacted."
7. What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?person holding fire cracker shallow focus photography Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
"None of those traditions matter in the long run anyway" in regards to ceremonies, red carpet events, etc in relation to graduation. Just because they seem small to someone else doesn't mean that we didn't deserve to have events to celebrate our achievements."
8. What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the class of 2021?www.instagram.com
"Be prepared for change. We were the first class to lose celebrations because of COVID-19, but it's unlikely anything will "go back to normal". It's very likely you'll be guinea pigs for new policies and ways to do things. Be patient, and be prepared for frequent changes as everyone figures this out."
9. What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most?a person drowns underwater Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash
"I'll remember that big events such as this bring out a lot in people. Seeing people's reactions to change and stress can tell you a lot about those around you."
10. If there was a reset button you could use after living through quarantine, do you think you'd spend your graduating year differently than you originally planned?woman spreading arms near body of water Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash
"I would be more intentional about enjoying the moment I'm in. I didn't get the chance to realize most of my "lasts" and wish I could've had that opportunity to enjoy them more, but it's a bit of a metaphor for life. You often don't know it will be the last time you see someone, do a certain activity, etc. So, I would definitely just be more intentional in enjoying everything like it's the last time."
*Note: Direct quotes have only been altered for clarification.
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