The pandemic can't take away what the class of 2020 earned

Gradutation Issue

Who knew it would end like this? Whether you're a senior graduating high school or a senior graduating from college, I know this isn't what you expected your last few months of school to be.

It wasn't at all what I expected. I remember a few months ago, it felt like the whole world changed when we were told to social distance ourselves from loved ones and to wear a mask in public for protection. It felt like the world was over when students were told to leave campus and finish classes online through Zoom.

The last few months of college are supposed to be a time of celebration to enjoy the little things we are given before it's taken away in the blink of an eye. It can be attending a sports game as a student, studying in the library or even as simple as playing games with your group of friends.

When this big change happened, I was angry. I'm a first-generation college student graduating from a four-year institution. How could a virus take away the moment meant to celebrate that?

This promise of a ceremony helped us stay motivated to finish the school year strong, but it was taken away. I felt like I'd been denied a right, an experience guaranteed to graduates before me and after me.

But then I remembered something very important: We did it.

Even though we're graduating with different degrees in different fields — in art and chemistry and history — we have something in common. We did it.

We completed what seemed to be the impossible. We persevered, through Zoom classes and online finals.

We did it. COVID-19 could take away our graduation, but it didn't take away that accomplishment. So be proud. Be proud of yourself for getting that degree you worked so hard at obtaining during your time in school.

And now, as we look for a job in an impossible job market, think to yourself, what did you do when times were difficult for you in school? When you needed to pass the class that demanded countless hours of study? When you were late for class? You still showed up. When being involved seemed like too much — you did it anyways.

You have obtained this degree for a reason. You're more of a hard worker than you give yourself credit for. You'll find a job. It may take time, but I know you can do it. And just think, you are now bound to a hardworking class of 2020 who didn't let even a pandemic stand in the way of a diploma.

You did it.

No one can take that away from you. ♦

Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum: Robert Gales @ Spokane Convention Center

Wed., Sept. 29, 7:30-9 a.m.
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