I am currently a senior at Lewis & Clark. I will graduate in May, God willing (though it seems as though he has been a little less willing of late). I have been excited for my college graduation since my high school graduation, when I realized that I would graduate in the year 2020. What a fun, repetitive year to graduate in.
Frankly, I became excited about my college graduation before I was even in high school, when I attended my sister’s graduation from UC Berkeley in 2011. My (now late) grandparents attended, my aunt and her family came and it was a time of celebration and love that I could not wait to later be centered around me in eight years’ time.
Obviously, plans have changed.
I am a little heartbroken that the graduation ceremony itself is in question due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. The same aunt who attended my sister’s graduation was flying from California to see me graduate. My aunt on my mom’s side was going to fly in from Florida. It was going to be a day full of love and celebration, just like how I remember my sisters’ graduation.
That said, I appreciate that LC is doing its part in limiting exposure to and the spread of the coronavirus. College-aged students are the mostly safe, but those to whom we might spread it are not. It is the moral and right decision to move classes to an online platform, even if it does feel terrible.
I greatly appreciate that LC will keep the dorms open for students who need it and that they will continue to provide food and services as they are able to. I am deeply appreciative of all of my wonderful professors who are striving to still deliver competent classes. I am even more thankful to all of the professors who are learning new video systems in order to teach us. I am incredibly grateful for the staff on campus who are not professors that are still working hard to ensure the quality of our education. In short, I am pleasantly surprised that it seems as though the LC community has come together during this time instead of falling apart.
That said, the motivation I have been struggling to muster this semester is certainly not going to be helped by online classes I can attend in pajamas. The classes that I felt are almost perfunctory this semester in order to get my degree are now even more of a joke. Can the college really say that our quality of education has not gone down with the introduction of Zoom and online classes? It burns that this is the education we are still paying tens of thousands of dollars for. If I wanted an online education, I could have watched Khan Academy videos for free.
I will no longer see the people who I have seen everyday for four years. Myself, every other student and especially every senior have lost the final sense of community a few more months together might have given us.
But there is nothing to be done. LC needs the money that they already took to pay our professors and faculty and keep the campus pretty. Our professors need to receive their salary. We need to graduate. School must continue. So, Zoom to the rescue.
On the bright side.
I have flown home coincidentally for my dad’s birthday this year. My stay at home has suddenly been extended. The time of love and celebration that I may or may not have in the form of a graduation ceremony can be recreated now. I am fortunate enough to be healthy and to see my family for a longer time than I had planned, when I was not even planning on coming home after graduation. Before I am scattered to the wind, I can return home once more.
Some students cannot return home, whether because of prices or travel bans. For some, home is not a place of joy and love. Many students will be impacted by this more than me and my silly graduation ceremony. For them, I mourn more. And for them I do not have a solution. I hope that love and support, in any form they might come, will be enough.