By Julia Keymer/El Inde
It’s a warm Friday night and students excitedly file into the University of Arizona football stadium. Friends and family pile into the stands to celebrate their loved ones who are completing a major milestone. The commencement ceremony begins and students get ready to close the chapter on the last four years of their lives.
For some, this is the first time someone in their families has graduated from a four-year university. For others, going away to college meant moving away from their family and friends. For all, graduation is a major accomplishment and something they are all excited to celebrate.
Unfortunately for myself and the rest of the graduating class of 2020, the Covid-19 global pandemic changed the course of senior year.
There was no last time attending an undergraduate class. There was no countdown until graduation nor completing all your lasts with your best friends. Senior year ended abruptly when over our last spring break, the university announced that classes would be moved online indefinitely, and shortly after, they announced the cancellation of all graduation ceremonies.
To say I felt a whirlwind of emotions is an understatement. Although I was prepared for college to end and was undoubtedly excited for the next chapter in my life, I was not prepared at all to have the past four years of my life end so suddenly. There was no closure. No warning that I was going to be doing so many things for the last time without even knowing it. The University of Arizona had given me so much and I wasn’t given the opportunity to even say goodbye.
Before I knew it, friends whom had turned into family were packing up their lives in Tucson and we didn’t know when we would see each other next. We thought that we had two more months together, and in an instant, two months turned into two days.
Throughout senior year, I knew eventually I would have to say goodbye to places such as Illegal Pete’s, No Anchovies and to people I had grown to love like my best friends and my roommate, Kendall. I had no idea it would be so hard. Hugging my best friends for the last time was an indescribable feeling. Although it was unbearable, I also felt so much gratitude for the school that had given me so much. I couldn’t help but feel so lucky that I had gotten to have such an incredible college experience. An experience that I will never forget.
I remember getting dropped off at school freshman year like it was yesterday. I was the first of my friends at home to go off to college. I was so sad and couldn’t stop crying as my parents helped me move in. It was a hard year. Adjusting, making new friends and living in a new place were all things that really tested me as a person. College helped me grow more than I could have ever imagined.
Sophomore year was when I really started to settle in. I found my best friends, made amazing memories, and started to feel like Tucson was my home. It finally started to feel that college experience everyone always talks about. The best four years of your life. I looked forward to weekends and spending time with my friends and just got more involved — going to football games, basketball games, and campus events. It was nice to feel a part of such an amazing community.
Junior year only got better. I was so comfortable and happy in Tucson. It felt more like home than my actual home of Carlsbad, California. I was sad having to go home for breaks and looked forward to being able to return to Tucson. I grew so much as a person during junior year, becoming more independent and mature than I ever thought I could be. I was learning how to live on my own and take care of myself without my parents’ constant support. I had a stable job all of junior year and finally felt like I was becoming an adult.
Finally, senior year. The best one yet. I had the absolute time of my life during my first semester. School was hard, but what made it easier was the support system I had cultivated over the past three years. Senior year truly showed me how amazing my friends were. They lifted me up when I was down and helped make even the stressful times so enjoyable. I felt such amazing friendship and thought to myself that I would cherish these people forever. Needless to say, I was so excited to return from winter break and finish off our last semester strong. Those two months back at school were amazing and I wish I would have known that I was doing so many things for the last time.
My college friends and I will never get to experience the feeling of closure from the last four years. Even being home now just feels like a temporary thing; like I’ll be going back to Tucson once this is all over. Even though I know that’s not true, it still feels that way. It’s a really sad feeling to have — to have to keep reminding myself that it’s all over.