I sat down with Jackie Yim, who graduated from the University of Southern California as part of the class of 2020. I got to know Jackie through Tapestry LA Church, a Christian church in Los Angeles we attend together. Jackie transferred to USC from Case Western Reserve University in the fall of 2018 and will be returning to USC to pursue her Master's in Public Policy this coming fall.
1. Where did you graduate from?
I graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy.
2. What has it been like spending your last semester under quarantine amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
Honestly, this last semester was pretty sad because I was not able to spend time with my friends and make new, lasting memories or graduate with them.
3. Of all the things you missed out on because of quarantine, what has been the hardest to accept?
I think just hanging out with friends or studying with a friend. Personally, this was difficult to accept because I may not see a lot of people again, or at least for a long time. Unless you make a big effort to keep it touch, it is difficult to do so because people from USC are from so many different parts of the world. So the fact that I couldn't hang out with my friends, at least one last time was….difficult.
4. What has been a silver lining?
One of the best things about this entire experience is the opportunity to spend time with my family. I feel like I didn't really know my family until I came to quarantine because I haven't spent this much time with them in a while.
5. What have you done to make up for some of the graduation traditions you aren't able to do?
I celebrated with my friends who live in my hometown, like my high school friends. And then I used Zoom to video call my friends before I ordered food with my family and celebrated. [Int Question: What was your favorite food you've ordered during quarantine?] Oh my god. A few days ago, my family ordered from this Mexican food place where you get this birria soup that you dip your burritos and tacos with. It was so incredible.
6. What are your next steps, and have they been impacted by coronavirus?
So this year, USC offered a progressive degree program for seniors, because they knew that there was a recession and finding jobs would be really difficult. I am currently pursuing my Master's in Public Policy through at USC, and without COVID-19, this program would not have been offered to seniors. So it's definitely opened some new opportunities for me, thankfully.
7. What is the worst thing someone can say to a Class of 2020 graduate?
"Could be worse!"
8. What is one piece of advice you would love to give to the class of 2021?
To the class of 2021: resilience grows through practice. And this is a good time to practice this and experience personal growth in whatever you are passionate about.
9. What about the last few months do you think you'll remember most?
I think one of the positive things that came about in correlation with COVID-19 was the time people have at home to reflect on pertinent social issues. People are thinking about things that should be talked about, like the Black Lives Matter movement, the racial climate in America in regards to all minorities, and the recent empowerment of victims of sexual assault coming forward with their stories. I think if people didn't have the time to think about things at home, then the surge, or movement of people coming together to promote change would not have been as powerful or influential as it is now. As disheartening as everything going on is, I think the fact that people are realizing that change needs to happen, is good.
10. What is the biggest change that you've seen in yourself as a person, from before the pandemic to now?
Before COVID-19 I viewed my future through a very linear lens. Considering my graduation in past years, I always thought that finding a job was the most important thing to do after schooling. Because of quarantine, I've had to take a step back, and I've learned how to relax more. It's like my curiosity about the world that is reflective of my childhood self, came out more because I didn't have to be such an "adult." I learned that life happens, and you just kind of have to deal with it. There are other ways that your career can begin, and it doesn't have to be the path that everyone else takes.