The class of 2020 is shocked, scared, angry, sad and confused. We’re all waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out from behind a curtain and tell us we’ve been Punk’d.
Our senior year of college is effectively over, and we’ve been robbed of the bittersweet ending we were anxiously anticipating.
The COVID-19 pandemic has us now sheltered in, taking classes online through Zoom. Practicing social distancing is vital and important in order to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus, but it has thrown a wrench in our plans for our final month of college.
This last month was meant to be spent preparing for that day in May.
We didn’t get to properly say goodbye to our friends and our professors. We didn’t get a proper moment of reflection on the past four years. We didn’t get to say goodbye to Plattsburgh State the right way.
We don’t get to reflect on our last walk to class. We don’t get to have a moment where we pat ourselves on the back for all the progress we’ve made since our freshman year. We’ve grown not only in character but in knowledge, maturity and independence.
As a member of the PSU Class of 2020, I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions in the last few weeks, some that I listed above and some that I can’t actually find the words to describe.
I’ve found myself lying in bed until noon most days staring out my window trying to convince my mind that this is my new normal for the next few months.
In September, when my final year in college started, I found myself reminiscing about how fast the last three years had gone by. In the summer of 2016, I moved into my dorm room excited for all that college was going to give me, and there I was in the late summer of 2019, starting to mentally prepare myself to say my goodbyes.
In early March, I was still in that mindset. I was still mentally preparing myself to say those goodbyes. I thought I had time.
Yes, I got to say goodbye to my closest friends, my roommates and maybe some professors. But it felt rushed. It wasn’t a heartfelt “It was great to know you, I know you’ll do great things” kind of goodbye. It was more like a “I guess I’ll see you around” goodbye where you aren’t entirely sure you’ll see the person again because you don’t know what the future will bring. We knew we were leaving Plattsburgh to go home for spring break, but we weren’t quite sure what the future held after that. There are people I didn’t get to see and hug one last time before I left because everything felt so rushed. It’s both sad and frustrating.
To make things even scarier, I’m entering an unclear job market. I’ve had multiple conversations with friends in the last few weeks about how much our experience will mirror those who graduated in 2008 and 2009 after the global financial crisis. Any senior will tell you that going out into the world and being truly independent for the first time is a scary thought, but it wasn’t supposed to be this daunting. We’ve all seen the figures about how many people have become unemployed in the last few weeks. The New York Times reported that around 16 million people have filed for unemployment benefits as of April 9.
Hopefully, I can secure a job in journalism and utilize the skills I’ve been taught. I’ve learned so much from being in the journalism program, having worked on both Cardinal Points and DoNorth, and I want to be able to use those skills. I was getting excited for the future. That future doesn’t look as clear anymore.
We are entering murky waters.
And what feels like an even harder blow to the class of 2020 is the rescheduling of our commencement to Dec. 12 from May 16.
We were meant to say goodbye and deliver bone-crushing hugs five weeks from now. That ceremony would signal the end of our days at PSU and move us on to the next stage of our lives. Moving it to the end of the year is incredibly inconvenient and inconsiderate to us. By then, many of us will have gotten jobs or moved to different states, and that may not allow us to travel back and walk the stage.
If you had told me a few weeks ago that it would be the last time I walked through PSU as a student, I would have looked at you and laughed.
I’m not laughing now.
My senior year has effectively been ruined, and while it will take some time to emotionally recover from this devastation and heartbreak, we will eventually be OK.
But for now, it’s fine to be mad or want to scream or throw something or cry for an hour.
We can all admit it: this f—–g sucks.
Email Nyela Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org