College Seniors Say an Early Goodbye

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By Megan Wehring
Assistant News Director

SAN MARCOS, Texas – The senior class of 2020 are spending their last semester in an online classroom, with an anti-climactic end to their college career. From finding the perfect quote for their cap decoration to longing for pictures under the UAC arch, Texas State seniors are finding that their goodbye on campus is arriving earlier than they planned.

While it’s expected to have a semester of lasts, Texas State seniors were planning on having at least one more day in their favorite building, at Sewell Park, walking through the Quad and being surrounded by their peers. The coronavirus is ripping away moments that were once spent in a crowded space but are now spent at home, alone.

Journalism senior Bailey Brown said she was prepared for life after college, until she was expected to leave everything behind all at once.

“My last first day, my last final exam, my last bus ride, my last last day of school,” Brown said. “I was ready to leave it all behind and venture my way into the real world, but I didn’t want it to be ripped away from me so fast…My loss isn’t as great as others, but it is a loss nonetheless.”

Journalism senior Laura Figi said she was excited to have a semester of firsts, where she could experience multiple opportunities in the course of one semester, until the pandemic.

“I was looking forward to competing at TIPA, judging UIL journalism, gathering in-person sources for my capstone project and walking across the stage in three weeks,” Figi said. “I wish it was the ultimate semester but I’m reminiscing on better times.”

The spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, originally planned to be held in May, were moved to August to coincide with summer graduation. Since the academic calendar is posted on the Texas State website in advance, most students had plans set for family travel and parties to host afterward.

Though grand ceremonies aren’t for some, electronic media senior Hector Montemayor-Perez said he was excited to physically show his family his dedication to earning a college degree while walking across the stage.

“It does hurt my family. I wake up every day and put so much effort into what I do for them,” Montemayor-Perez said. “I do everything I do to make them proud and to give a good example to my younger relatives. The ceremony would’ve been for them, for them to see the cumulative goal that not only I achieved, but that my family has helped in achieving. Even my grandfather has asked me for three months when the ceremony would be so that he could make the trip from Mexico and congratulate me.”

Brown also feels the postponement of the commencement ceremony to August as a sentimental loss. She said she was looking forward to having that one moment in time to show her parents that those four years of hard work finally paid off.

“The ceremony is one moment to feel proud of the accomplishments I made, to look back at my mom and dad crying in the stands and for them to see they raised a successful daughter, for the chance to jump in the river with all of my friends and have a drink afterwards,” Brown said. “The piece of paper is important; it is a stamp of approval. I am fortunate to have been able to go to school and finish with something to show for it.”

While some see not having the commencement ceremony in May as a loss, others see it as yet another protective measure to keep the Texas State community safe. Students have already been expected to adjust learning through an online platform, so it wasn’t too long after that university events would also be cancelled or postponed.

Comparing the current state to previous high school graduation, some students feel they are missing out on the excitement. History senior Gwendolyn Cunningham said it’s upsetting that memories will be lost due to the unexpected change in graduation plans.

“I just really love people,” Cunningham said. “I love being around people and listening to people and creating memories, so that is the worst part of it all. I can’t be with my favorite people to finish off one of my favorite memories, and it is a complete bummer.”

Figi said the pandemic has affected more than just college students, leaving everyone in the world with some kind of experience to share.

“Everyone has a story and the COVID-19 situation is giving everyone in the world,” Figi said. “At the very least, college students in Texas, the same experience. In a way, this will be a “typical senior year” for the class of 2020.”

College seniors are ending their last four years of higher education in slow-motion, just watching their future becoming a blur by the instant. Some were prepared to enter the real world with a full-time career job or at least an internship leading to something more. Unfortunately, those opportunities are slipping away from their hands day by day. The coronavirus has caused massive layoffs and strain on the economy, leaving seniors to question what the future holds for them.

Featured image by Megan Wehring.

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