A Bittersweet Farewell to the Class of 2020
By AJ Goldbloom
It is no surprise that many seniors are disappointed with how their last year in college ended. Although the pandemic canceled or postponed monumental events for these seniors, there is something special to be said about this past semester. As a sophomore finishing her school year, I cannot speak for the graduating seniors. I have observed the heightened comradery and sense of community since the semester moved to remote learning. After speaking with friends who are graduating in just a few days, I have heard about their disappointment and sadness in regards to their final moments of college. I have also heard about how close these seniors have gotten to keep spirits high and find meaningful, safe alternatives to certain events. Of course, every senior's experience has been different, but I think it is safe to say that all graduating students have taken some time in quarantine to reflect on their best memories from college. Here are testimonies from two graduating seniors….
Tess Hyatt from Baltimore, Md, has had nothing short of incredible experiences at UMD. She said that the lifelong friendships she has made over the last four years make her "wish [she] could stay longer even." As a legacy at the university, Hyatt feels grateful to graduate from a school that has been attended by many family members. She said while it is exciting to finish school, she is definitely upset about the way things ended. When reflecting on the pandemic's effect on her final semester, Hyatt said she "lost two valuable months of time to spend with friends. [She feels] like [she hasn't] gotten any closure with college, to the point where it doesn't feel like we're graduating." Although the circumstances are disappointing, she plans on moving to New York City to pursue the next chapter of her life. Her advice to younger students is to never take college for granted; "college goes by in the blink of an eye."
Justine Bach is another student preparing to graduate in just a few days. Bach said she will “forever be thankful for Maryland for changing [her] life for the better,” though she is devastated with the current circumstances. As she readies herself for a remote internship, she does not feel as though she received the appropriate closure and doesn’t know if she is ready to move on entirely. If this crisis has taught her anything, it is “to be grateful and patient. [She] lost valuable time here, but it is important to be grateful for what we did get to experience. Some of [her] friends do not yet have job opportunities due to everything going on, so we support one another and reflect on the fastest four years.” A large part of Bach’s college years was spent with her sorority sisters, and she said she wouldn’t change anything if she were to redo her time in College Park. Her advice to other students is to remember all the good in life to handle the bad. She said, “take a moment while you’re here and realize how lucky you are to be at Maryland with your closest friends.”
As a sophomore, I feel so lucky to have spent two years getting to know students in the class of 2020. I can’t imagine the frustration and dismay this graduating class feels in these unfortunate circumstances. You will always have a home at UMD. While you celebrate your impending graduation, celebrate your legacy and the positive mark you made on younger students. Though this isn’t the ending you expected or deserve, your graduation is no less important in these circumstances. Congratulations, Class of 2020!