There is a running list of emotions graduating seniors feel at the beginning of their last year, from anxiousness about starting a new life chapter to the excitement about finally being able to hold our degree in our hands.
Although we all know that eventually this journey must come to an end, I at least found solace in the fact that I had my last two semesters to mentally prepare for the goodbye.
Over the course of the last four years, I found a home on the University of La Verne’s campus. With my education came a sense of belonging I had never felt before, a connectedness and community never present in my life previously.
This campus made me feel as though I had a place, and although I knew I had to say goodbye at some point, it was going to be on my terms and when I was ready to say it.
With that being said, I still started my last year off wanting it to end, much like any other senior going through the stages of that dreaded “senioritis.” I wanted graduation here, now, and my classes to be done and over with. Anxiousness over the real world may not have subsided, but I was ready for change. With that came feelings of resentment toward my schoolwork and my classes, these feelings of burnout and the impatience of wanting to leave are almost a rite of passage for graduating seniors. I’m no exception.
From forcing myself to churn out assignments I wanted nothing to do with, to complaining endlessly over tearful phone calls with my mom over how exhausted I was, I really had no idea that within a few weeks after the start of my final semester I would be biting my tongue and regretting the attitude I held for months prior.
Unprepared, the labeling of a global pandemic brought our last year on campus to an abrupt end. Although our classes may continue virtually, the life and sense of community that contributed so largely to my success no longer exists.
This is not to say that the measures taken by the University to ensure the safety and health of our community were unwarranted. It is precisely the fact that the situation falls largely out of all our hands that makes it that much more difficult to process. There lies a need to place blame where there is no blame to place. To point a finger and interrogate another for their decisions on ending my senior year too early remains an unavailable option no matter how cathartic it seems that would be.
The goodbye I was in the process of readying myself to say at the end of May was ripped from my hands in the form of an email.
My last live production day on the Campus Times was treated as any other, leading now to feelings of regret over not cherishing those late nights in the newsroom even more. The peers I had grown so used to seeing every day, whether in class or just around campus, I will more than likely never see again and none of us knew that when entering spring break.
The stress of never-ending assignments and looming deadlines semester after semester caused an instability in my own outlook that was only ever alleviated by the promise of a ceremony to celebrate what I managed to push myself through. Right now, the status of that ceremony remains up in the air with an unknown postponement date.
Feelings of confusion, being cheated and displaced anger remain, although I acknowledge the necessity of the decision. Life will continue its given course whether we like it or not, whether we deem it fair or not.
Although my goodbye may have been stripped from my hands without an option for negotiation, I look back on my four years here fondly and grateful. Every professor I had the experience of sitting through a course with provided a quality level of support that so many of us need when jumping into higher education, myself especially. My peers provided outlooks, experiences and connections that have left their mark on my own perspective, allowing me to grow in ways I never knew possible. The relationships I have fostered will be cherished for a lifetime, just as my overall experience at the University of La Verne will be.
With that being said, I’d like to leave my fellow seniors with this: Our last semester may have been abruptly and unfairly cut short, our goodbyes no longer on our own terms and our promise for a ceremony that so many of us were depending on remains uncertain, but the experiences we made together will never falter. Dwelling on the disappointment of the situation is expected, but the fact that we have such strong feelings over the issue proves our time here was not wasted, but cherished.
And forever cherished will it live on, no matter how much the current state of the world may have altered our last few months here.
Jocelyn Arceo, a senior journalism major, is managing editor for the Campus Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.