Not your typical senior year
'There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I can't wait to get there'
The past year and a half has been a whirlwind experience for the graduating class of 2021. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was a second semester junior thinking we would be back to normal by fall just in time for my senior year. Now, after spending my senior year at home, I am preparing to graduate this Saturday in Mackay Stadium with my friends and family and I couldn’t be more excited.
I never could have predicted that my last year and a half of my college experience would be spent in a global pandemic. I had just started working as an intern at the University's marketing and communications office when two months into my job my boss came into the room to tell me to take all my things home, as the University was about to announce the closure of campus right before spring break. A few weeks later, the world went into lockdown and college life drastically changed.
It’s easy to look at this past year and see all the experiences I missed for my senior year. Things that felt so small seem so big to me now, like walking to class on a nice sunny day or laying in the grass with friends between classes. Things I won’t ever get to experience again and didn’t think I would miss until it was gone.
Doing both school and work from my apartment bedroom for so long has not been easy. Most days I felt trapped, the daily rotation from my desk to my living room to my kitchen countertop became unfulfilling. Like so many others, I can attest that Zoom burnout is a real thing and the motivation to complete my schoolwork became difficult.
While it’s so easy to focus on the negatives and the things that could have been, the positives are what have gotten me through it all. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep a job this entire time, as unfortunately many others cannot say the same. I’m still able to graduate this semester with my bachelor of arts degree in journalism with a minor in graphic communications. None of my loved ones ever caught the virus, and we are now all vaccinated and protected against it. My friends and I found new ways to have fun and pushed ourselves to get outside more and enjoy everything Reno-Tahoe has to offer us.
I’m fortunate for all my experiences and accomplishments here at the University, before and after the pandemic. I met lifelong friends living in Argenta, I was able to study abroad in San Sebastian, Spain through USAC the summer of 2019, and I’ve held a wonderful student intern position that has taught me so much. I joined the Reynolds School’s Alpha Design Agency to complete a practicum and independent study and created designs for local businesses and nonprofits here in Reno. I made the Dean’s List every semester and made the most out of my time at the J-School.
Now, I am ecstatic to have the opportunity for an in-person commencement, for the first time ever at Mackay Stadium. I had accepted the fact graduation would be online a long time ago and the announcement of a semi-normal, safe graduation is everything I could have asked for to celebrate with fellow students and family.
Unlike this time last year, when things were so uncertain, I am graduating into a world where there is renewed hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I can’t wait to get there. Although my time at the University is over, I am so excited for those behind me to get back to campus and back to normal life as a college student.