August 2019 marked the start of my final year at the College of Charleston. More knowledgeable, prepared and mature, I felt I was finally ready to graduate. I often pictured graduation day. I’ve imagined myself in that fresh white tuxedo, a unique C of C tradition, surrounded by my friends and family celebrating a lifetime milestone. I’d be popping the top off a bottle of champagne and enjoying pats on the back.
This year, I’ve taken huge steps towards my future career, developing a strong interest in marketing and assisting brands with their strategic goals. After the first semester, I was prepared to start my next chapter. This spring semester started off great. I had good classes, a fair workload and learned a lot about my future industry.
I was looking forward to spring break after midterms. I had plans to either travel to Florida or head down to the Bahamas. However, my senior year spring break was not like previous seniors’ spring breaks, or maybe any other spring break in history for that matter. I was told to stay home and not travel. After looking at cheap flights, figuring out some last-minute vacation ideas, I ultimately decided to stay home – and good thing I did. The next week our world turned upside down.
Once COVID-19 was in full swing, we were told our classes have been cancelled for the rest of the semester and that we’d resume learning from home. After hearing the news, it took me a second to realize that before spring break was the last time I would ever set foot in a classroom as a student and I didn’t even know it.
I can’t say I was disappointed, but more in disbelief. The next thing I know, all off the activities that come with graduating were cancelled. This has ruined all the momentum I had and has made me wonder, why I should continue working as hard as I once did. Although I have been keeping busy, the motivation I once had, has slowly disappeared as this virus has taken away a lot of the sentimental things that kept me moving forward.
To be clear, it isn’t actually cancelled, rather it’s postponed. The commencement may now either be in August in a gymnasium, Spring 2021 or in the fall season in October/November. All of which will never be the same as graduating with the people you started with back in 2016. Graduating in four years, working on projects through the night, cramming five different papers in a week and buying more coffee than I could actually handle…. we deserved more than a postponed graduation. It feels like I am missing out on a major milestone that represents my accomplishments up to this point. I view my graduation as more than a diploma, rather a moment that captures the significance of my growth as a person and for that reason, I am saddened that this moment has lost its overall value. I am rounding out my last week of school with a sigh of relief due to having less work on my plate.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, I have been googling all of the stores that may or may not have toilet paper, scavenging to find hand sanitizer and figuring out the best design for essential N95 masks. The comfort I get from this unfortunate situation is that, I am not the only senior who is experiencing this. I am not alone, and neither are the other seniors. We are no longer the graduating class of 2020, instead the graduating class of COVID-19, the ones who overcome adversity, financial distress and will continue to innovate and change our future for the better.
By Jarred Silverman, Roper St. Francis Healthcare Marketing Intern, College of Charleston Class of 2020