NSights Blog

Expecting the unexpected during your senior year

A graduating senior looks back at a semester that was ... and wasn't

Walking onto campus January 21 for the spring semester felt a little different. It started like any other first day, I treated myself to an iced coffee, took a first day of semester picture outside of the Reynolds School of Journalism and went on to class and work like usual. However, I felt different because this was my last first day of school I may ever have. Little did I know, how much of what I expected of the semester would change a few weeks later.

I had a lot of anxiety about graduating brewing early on. I worried of where I would live, would I be able to find a job and would I even like the career path I was on. Often, I had to tell myself to breathe and take one day at a time and everything would fall into place.

I had very little reason to worry in the first place. My education at the Reynolds School has fully prepared me for entering the real world and starting my career, I have spent two years working as an intern at the University’s marketing and communications office and mentors who have helped me expand my network and give me advice. Every challenge I had faced in my four years at the University had made me stronger and had prepared me for what was to come after I graduate.

Little did I know, a global pandemic would change everything I thought I knew and cancel every plan I had.

As the fear of COVID-19 ramped up, I found myself trying to dismiss my worries about the pandemic as much as possible. I already had irrational fears about graduating, I could not imagine having to worry about a global health crisis on top of that.

However, as I packed up to go home to Las Vegas for spring break, I received an email from the University that in-person classes had been canceled until further notice and after our break classes would resume online. Suddenly, I did not care about my plans after May 15, I could not even figure out my plans for the next day.

I spent my spring break in Las Vegas helping my mother stock up on various groceries she would need for the weeks to come and of course searching the city for toilet paper. My roommate and I decided it would be best for us to return to Reno quarantined in our apartment and finish our classes from there.

As we settled into our new normal, we knew everything we expected of our final semester was about to change. Even though we had prepared for it, when we received the email explaining our commencement would be moved to a virtual celebration it did not hurt any less.

I did not know how much walking at my commencement meant to me until I had it taken away from me. I overwhelmingly felt angry, upset and helpless. Something I had to come to accept is I have no one to be mad at; We are battling something we cannot see. I know the University is taking the preventative measures it needs to keep students and faculty safe and at this time that is the number one priority.

In the grand scheme of things, my commencement does not matter and my grieving of it may seem silly to others. Myself, my friends and my family are safe and healthy, what more could I want? Graduating still matters to me though, I spent four years working toward a degree I am proud of and I want to celebrate it with those I love. While a virtual commencement would have sufficed, I am glad the University is giving the Spring Class of 2020 the option to celebrate at later dates. Even if I do not get to walk, I need to keep reminding myself, getting my degree still matters and is a great accomplishment.

As I reach the end of the semester my anxieties persist. I am launching my career in an uncertain job market and have to move back home for the time being. While I may feel like a failure, I remind myself this is just a challenge I will have to overcome. My experiences at the University the last four years have prepared me for this.

Times are uncertain right now and no one really knows what the future holds. To keep myself positive I continue to focus on the things I know for certain. I know I am excited to launch my career in public relations. I know I have a support system who will love me and help me no matter what happens. Lastly, I know myself and what I am capable of and if I persist with my goals, things might end up better than I expected in the end. 

Elizabeth Pearson
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