While the dreaded end of a college career gleams on the horizon throughout a senior’s final year, the last few months normally allow preparation for the moment when it all comes to a close. However, normalcy is a far cry from our world today, and an abrupt end to life as we knew it would be the simplest way to describe the last two months.
The COVID-19 crisis has left the graduating class with a feeling that they were unable to give their proper farewells or indulge in the much anticipated events of senior week.
“I am definitely sad to miss celebrating all the ‘lasts’ with my friends and classmates: last time at The Grape, last point day, last time at the RecPlex and the other end of the year senior activities we were all looking forward to,” lamented Tess Griffin ‘20.
For Griffin and the entire class of 2020, saying goodbye this year is much different. COVID-19 forced the acceptance of a new reality, one that nobody saw coming – a reality in which traditional goodbyes wouldn’t be granted and where academic careers would end on a video chat with a computer cursor clicking “end call.”
Lizzy Ferarro ‘20 explained how this unorthodox ending was a bit underwhelming after four years of hard work.
“Yesterday being the last day of classes was very bittersweet because it felt like a huge accomplishment to finish college classes, but also disappointing because we are not finishing with our friends, professors and peers,” Ferraro said.
For the majority of the graduating class, it has been difficult to come to terms with the fact that the expectations of their last moments at Fairfield will not be what they imagined.
Senior Mark Damboragian shared Griffin and Ferraro’s frustration. “I just wish COVID-19 gave us a chance. I’m sure if she met us she would’ve understood that we weren’t ready for our senior year to end and would’ve reconsidered,” he said.
This premature end to a traditional school year has certainly been painful, but members of the graduating class have found a stronger need for reflection on the times that were had. Regardless, normalcy is missed.
Ferraro, who was granted permission to stay on campus in the new townhouses, expressed how a once lively and crowded place is now nearly empty, with only a few individuals still there.
“It is very quiet on campus and definitely not the same without everyone here,” she said.
Even through this drastic change, seniors have grown to realize that one of the most gratifying aspects of the Fairfield experience is emerging after four years as changed humans with new life-long relationships.
“I am grateful to Fairfield for so many great memories that I have and the friendships that I have made, that I know will continue for decades,” acknowledged Griffin.
It is the spirit of gratitude and optimism that the senior class has learned to adapt to, especially with the promise made by the university that an in-person commencement ceremony will take place in the future.
“I’m just really happy and grateful for the many months we did have of our senior year. I guess this long time away from each other will make graduation that much more special,” Damboragian said.
For many, learning to appreciate the present moment has become the silver lining in this pandemic. The class of 2020 may have missed two months of their college career, but, if anything, with their time out, they have learned to stop and always appreciate today.