I Watched My College Commencement on FaceTime: The Highs and Lows of Graduating During a Global Pandemic
Start writing a post
Community

I Watched My College Commencement on FaceTime: The Highs and Lows of Graduating During a Global Pandemic

How graduating college during a global pandemic led me to Arizona State University.

12
I Watched My College Commencement on FaceTime: The Highs and Lows of Graduating During a Global Pandemic
Photo by author.

This was a day I was told would be one of the happiest days of my life.

This was a day where I wanted to willingly pay for overpriced beer and eat the best garlic fries an American baseball stadium could offer with my friends. It was a day that kept me going when I worked two jobs. A day to celebrate the obstacles my peers and I overcame to when we could finally say, "We did it. We graduated college."

Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would graduate college during a global pandemic. However, graduating during a global pandemic and an economic crisis was one of the worst - and best - things that could have ever happened to me.

I found out on Zoom

It was the first week my campus was testing out Zoom for our classes. I've taken online classes before, but this was the first time I was taking classes that were completely online. I couldn't wait to get back to campus and take classes in person, just like I have done for my entire life. Little did I know that the previous week was the last time I was ever going to take a class at San Francisco State University in person.

Like most people, I was uncertain about the future. At the time, I think we were all processing what was happening. We couldn't believe there was a toilet paper shortage at the store. I stocked up on hand sanitizer from work. Some of us were ahead of the ballgame and already accepted the fact that life was never going to be the same. Others in complete denial, even though COVID-19 was the only thing we were talking about in my classes all semester. Our professors were honest with us and told us that they too even know what the rest of the semester was going to look like. The ripple effects of the pandemic soon started to affect my large, but tight-knit community in San Francisco.

Just as we were doing the annual COVID-19 check-in on one another in my radio and podcasting class, a student unmuted their microphone and said, "They postponed graduation!"

As a graduating senior, there was no way that this was happening.

The rest of class was a blur. I don't remember what we covered that day. I do remember how I felt. I felt like everything was falling apart at the seams. It was the final straw and I broke down.

Earlier that day, I found out that my job was closed until further notice. When they announced commencement was postponed, they also announced classes were moved online for the rest of the semester.

I was angry. Really angry.

This was the day I dreamed about when I took multiple AP and honors classes in high school. A day that kept me going when I worked full-time and was going to school full-time. A day that I wanted my family to celebrate with me, because we all made it.

My mom's side of the family immigrated to the United States for the "American Dream". She graduated college from the Philippines. My dad grew up in America, but he didn't have the same opportunities that I did growing up. He never graduated college, but made a career for himself by going to trade school.

Knowing that my parents have been through hell and back, I've put an insane amount of pressure on myself throughout my entire life. I would never know the true extent of the sacrifices my parents have made for me. I knew that I had to take advantage of every opportunity I stumbled across on, because they never got to do the same. They sacrificed everything for me to be in a position where I was able to go to college. Sure, I didn't have the same privileges as some of my peers. A lot of things in college, like filling out the FAFSA form, was something I had to figure out on my own. However, going to college, but actually finishing it, was a big deal.

With commencement being postponed, it felt like a big slap in the face. My parents worked hard. I worked hard. We don't get to celebrate big occasions that often, because we were all busy working to improve our quality of life.

For a long time, I grappled with the thought of commencement being online. Why now, why me? On social media, it didn't help that people who actually got to graduate college were sharing pictures of themselves graduating, sharing that they knew our pain. They didn't. My friends that were first-generation students would never get to experience a commencement ceremony. What about them? No one but the Class of 2020 would ever know how we truly felt.

Even when the pandemic is over, I'm not sure if I would ever feel comfortable sitting in a packed stadium ever again.

Commencement, but make it online

For the first 15 minutes of the commencement ceremony, I watched it on FaceTime.

Yes, FaceTime.

The livestream link crashed and I couldn't make it to the opening remarks of my own ceremony, so I had to FaceTime my sister to watch commencement because she was able to access the link. My friends and I spent time trying to figure out how we were supposed to watch the ceremony.

I felt stupid putting on the dress I was supposed to wear to graduation. I hated wearing heels, but this was the one time I wanted to get blisters from wearing heels because it would have meant that I got to graduate at Oracle Park.

I looked around my living room. My grandma was watching the livestream on her iPad. My mom and I were struggling to watch the ceremony on our TV, once we were able to access the livestream link. I started to laugh. Yes, I was drinking a glass of red wine. There was no way anyone could have anticipated that this was happening. I was worried about how I was going to seat my divorced parents together at Oracle, but they ended up watching their daughter graduate college from separate households. One day I was going to have to explain to my future kids how I graduated online.

Looking back at this commencement ceremony, I laugh. I spent my whole life planning for this one moment to happen and it didn't happen the way I expected it to.

A few minutes later, I was told to move my tassel from one side of my cap to the other. I watched my name move up on the screen like they were movie theater credits.

I closed my laptop, called my best friend, and finished my glass of wine. I was 100 percent unsure of what the future was going to look like.

Grappling with the future

I had no intent of applying to graduate school. I didn't have the money and I didn't want to bury myself into any more student debt than I already have accumulated.

Now that I was unemployed, I had all the time in the world. More time than I ever could have wished for. My original plan was to continue to work in San Francisco until I could get a job in the media industry. However, with everything from concerts to sports events being closed, I had no idea how I was going to land an entry-level job in the media industry when everything seemed to be put on pause.

During my time as an undergraduate student, I always wished I didn't work as much as a I did so I could focus more on school. One day, I thought to myself, maybe I should go to graduate school. I have all of the time in the world and everything right now is online anyways. Why not?

I spent months trying to find the right program. Then, I stumbled across Arizona State University. I remembered that one of my professors attended ASU and loved the education she received. After I discovered the Digital Audience Strategy program, I fell in love with what the program had to offer and knew it was the program I could see myself in.

I finally submitted my application and a few weeks later, I found out that I had been accepted.

Do I know that the world will go "back to normal" when the pandemic is (hopefully) over by the time I graduate from my Master's program? No, I don't. No one does.

Am I going to try anyways? Yes.

We can never plan how the future is going to end up. However, even when everything falls apart, you have every right to celebrate the small moments.

You got out of bed today, even when you truly felt like you couldn't? That's a win. You finally went on that walk outside you've been putting off for weeks? That's a win.

You decided to go to graduate school, even though you told yourself you never would because it was "never in the cards" for you?

That's a win.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

I Rated The 6 Best Seasonal Dates So You Don't Have To Go To Pinterest For Your Next Holidate

My boyfriend and I have the best holiday date list prepared so you don't have to search Pinterest for your next idea!

9885
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

I would just like to note that I am a little biased because they were all great dates, and I know he's going to read this. So here's a quick, little reminder that I love my boyfriend very much!

Keep Reading... Show less

With a huge sigh of relief, we can safely say that Joe Biden has won the election.

Keep Reading... Show less
Instagram: @greysabc

At the end of their last episode, "Grey's Anatomy" teased the return of another character from Meredith's past. After the return of Patrick Dempsey's, Derek Shepherd, Grey's fans know that no one is off-limits.

The return of these characters comes after Meredith was diagnosed with COVID-19 and began experiencing hallucinations of her loved ones.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

I love listening to Christmas music just as much as the next person, but when I turn on my local holiday radio station each year, it just feels repetitive. No hate to musicians like Burl Ives or Nat King Cole, but Christmas music needs an update. Personally, I'm tired of the same "Let It Snow" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". So plug in your Christmas tree, make some hot cocoa, and listen to these amazing (and updated) holiday songs.

Keep Reading... Show less

With the holidays right around the corner, there are many things to look forward to. Time with family, friends, great food, overall seasonal joy... And now the fragrances from Jennifer Lopez.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Christmas Songs For Your Festive Playlist

I have no shame in starting to feel festive super early.

10997

All of these songs are definitely popular. However, I have the strong opinion that having the songs on your Christmas playlist be popular is extremely important. Having everyone sing to the songs is most of the fun; it adds to the festivity of whatever you're doing.

Personally, I love to bake cookies and hum along as I cannot sing and no one should ever hear me. Whatever you do for the holidays, enjoy your festive time and the season!

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

5 Movies And TV Shows That Got Mental Illness Right​

There is a very fine line between representation for mentally ill people and demonizing them for the sake of entertainment. Hollywood has a tendency to sensationalize mental illness, but these shows and movies got it right.

943
Lionsgate

At the risk of being dismissive of all the progress we've made, mental health representation is still seriously lacking. Many shows fall into the traps of making their mentally ill character violent, making professional help seem useless, or making characters who don't reflect the reality for people living with mental illness.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10​​ Songs That Made It Onto My November Playlist

Another month of finding new music during unusual times

42651

A new month means new music! Like each month, I've collected my top 10 new songs or discoveries into a playlist. This November didn't have too many new releases, however, I did find a few and a couple of new discoveries.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments