Laney Butts is a Class of 2020 graduate who was excited to share her experience of a non-traditional end to her college career. I know Laney from our first-grade class together at Northwest Rankin Elementary School. She was the new girl from Florida and we quickly became friends after she invited me to her ice skating birthday party. Since then, we've been moving through life together which includes moving in together and being roommates for two years of college.
1. Where did you/are you graduating from?
Mississippi State University with a bachelor's in communications and a concentration in public relations.
2. What has it been like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
Laney states, "It was sad, not only was I having to deal with graduating a year early before all my friends but also I was having to face corona and my semester being cut short. The time I was supposed to spend on campus, with teachers, in my apartment, it all ended very quickly. It was very hard for me because I didn't like it at all. I really didn't like not knowing when my last day of school was and not even realizing it and that really hit me hard."
3. Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?
Graduation. Not even having a cap and gown and not being able to have my graduation trip with my best friends.
4. What has been a silver lining?
Honestly, for me, having a break from work was really amazing. Under the circumstances, it wasn't but because I have been working since I was fourteen to have a break for a month was great. I got to spend more time with my sisters, nephews, and family. I got to relax for the first time without having to worry about money or stressing about money.
5. What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?
I still got to take pictures on campus and the noteworthy spots in Starkville. Even though I didn't have a cap and gown, my family and friends made an effort to make sure my graduation was special. My sisters threw my brother and I a graduation party at my house which wouldn't have been done if we had traditional graduation. My cousins from Florida were also able to come up. It all made it very special.
6. What are your next steps, and have they been impacted by coronavirus?
Yes! My next step was supposed to be the Disney College Programs and as of right now it is supposed to happen; however, Florida has become a hot spot and we don't know if Disney is going to be shut down. This was supposed to be my way of living on my own and figuring out what's happening next while experiencing new things. I don't want to be a server forever while I have a degree; therefore, I will have to get the ball rolling on the next chapter of my life and begin my career.
7. What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?
"Oh, how does it feel to graduate during a pandemic", if anybody asked me that I would just be blunt and say "it sucks, and I'm sure you know that" because 2020 graduates really did have to miss out on more than what people realize.
8. What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the class of 2021?
Treat every day like it's your last. In college, when things don't happen like they are supposed to, don't let it derail you and make the most of your circumstances. It made things very special for me. The things my friends and family did wouldn't have happened if COVID-19 didn't happen. So really, even if it is the end of the world, don't act like it.
9. What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most?
Moving out of my apartment cause that really hit hard. Having to do that way earlier than I was supposed to hurt and hit really hard but it was really special bc I had everyone there.
10. What was your top memory from your time at Mississippi State?
if I had to pick one day, It was my friends and I went to moe's to see DJ epic and we had the most ballin' time. We were upfront, dancing on stage, with my girls. we were all carefree and had the most fun.