To the class of 2020,
These past few weeks have hit us hard: from leaving for spring break to returning back to school all refreshed for the last seven weeks we will have together as a community, then having it all taken away from us.
We were forced to uplift ourselves from our respective schools, and the community we have built for ourselves. Schools were told to close indefinitely and resume classes online. Friends were forced to separate and go home, with the thought looming over our heads, "Will this be the last time we will ever get to see one another?" The last time for us all to laugh with one another, cry over hard times, binge-watch movies and TV shows until late at night, and congregate at the bars until 2 a.m. when the bouncers have to drag us out.
No matter how much you think you hate school — the early 8 a.m. morning classes and chugging coffee because you're sleep-deprived — you'll end up wanting more and missing it when you have to leave.
So much of me is what I have learned from my three and a half years at college. Every single individual I have encountered has impacted me in some aspect or another — my friends, faculty, classmates — whether we talked every day, communicated in passing, or never spoke once.
To the class of 2020, all I can say is I'm sorry: I am sorry that for most of us, our time at school was cut short due to unfortunate circumstances. I am sorry we were not able to properly prepare ourselves and did not say goodbye to our friends and the community we were able to call home. I am sorry we were not able to soak up all the last-minute senior events, our last day of classes, our last trips to the bars, senior week, and most importantly, commencement.
I woke up this morning to an email from our president, subject "Loyola to extend online-only instruction through the close of the academic year." Though I was prepared and bracing for this email, nothing could have prepared me for the aftermath of emotions that followed. Sadness, confusion, and the fear of the unknown.
Based on the information from the CDC regarding crowds, like most schools, Loyola was forced to postpone commencement. While some people dread the three to four-hour ceremony, commencement means something more to me, and I'm sure so many other individuals. It is a time to be surrounded by loved ones, to celebrate our accomplishments, and to gather one last time as a community.
As we first enter university, so many of our dreams first seem impossible, but as we continue on that journey, all that initially seemed impossible becomes possible, and eventually, inevitable.
With each day's news on the pandemic, we encounter new challenges, and with these new challenges comes new emotions. However, one quote from Loyola's president, Father Linnane, resonated with me, and it is as follows:
"As difficult as it may be, I encourage you all to view those challenges as possible opportunities: for learning, for connecting with others, for reflecting, and for keeping a hopeful eye on the future."
When we are encountered with difficult times, I am constantly reminded by my family, and my faith, that challenges are not sent to destroy us. God does not give us anything we cannot handle. Rather, challenges are sent to us to promote, increase, and strengthen us.
So I encourage you all to lean on one another for support, listen closely to the information broadcasted by the CDC regarding social distancing and precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, and most importantly, take care of yourselves and others, especially our elderly and the immunocompromised.
And to the Class of 2020, stay positive, because our time will come soon enough.
We will have the opportunity to celebrate our achievements, to gather as one large community once more, and most importantly, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us. We are all destined for greatness, and during this time of great uncertainty, I choose to look forward, to take each time in stride, and make the most out of every moment here on earth, because life is too precious to be anything but positive.