There are few major milestones in one’s life. Graduation, marriage, the birth of a child. These milestones differ from person to person. Think back to the best day of your life. Was this a milestone in your life? Something you cannot picture your life without? Now imagine that being taken from you in the blink of an eye. How would you feel? Your life would be changed forever.
I came into my senior year at the University of Oregon nervous, but excited for the future. Fall term was everything I could have imagined. The beginning of winter term was the same. Soon after, everything changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Classes which required attendance no longer did. Professors were sending out emails telling students to stay home if they felt sick. Events were slowly getting cancelled. The school decided to hold finals and the first three weeks of spring term online, rather than in person. Three weeks turned into the entirety of the term. “What will happen with graduation?” I thought.
In a single tweet, my life changed forever. “Commencement activities will not be held as in-person events this year.” The moment I have been waiting for since I was a little kid was no longer going to occur. My family would never see me walk across the stage at Matthew Knight Arena and have my diploma handed to me.
This is never how I imagined my college career ending. I have been a student at the University of Oregon for almost three and a half years and was ready to walk with my class this spring. Graduation is a milestone I have looked forward to not only during my time in Eugene, but throughout my entire life. College graduation was the ultimate goal that I wanted to achieve which pushed me to continue working hard.
Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about myself. I found an internal strength that I never knew I had. I never imagined that a college town would soon become my second home, a place I felt safe and didn’t want to leave. This departure from Eugene came much too soon and much too abruptly. Spring term was supposed to be filled with many “lasts.” The last class, the last basketball game, the last final exam, all ending with the ultimate last part of college. Graduation.
The Class of 2020 is currently struggling with this being taken away. Overnight, high school, college, and graduate school graduations have been cancelled around the world due to the coronavirus. While this is understandable, it is no less devastating. The moment that people have waited for their entire academic careers has been ripped away.
This virus has changed the way the world works. As a society, we have to take precautions to ensure the people around us are not at risk. It has changed everyday life as we once knew it. Not only does the Class of 2020 have to learn to adapt to this new way of life, but we also must deal with the grief over having a key milestone event taken away from us.
The uncertainty of life after college was already on our minds. What will we do now that companies are closing their doors indefinitely, laying off employees? The future is more unclear than we could have ever imagined. This is a devastating time for many. With the future ambiguous and things constantly changing, it is a time everyone has to be gentle with themselves and those around them. No one knows what the future has to hold, but as John Green says, “There is hope, even if your brain tells you there isn’t.”