Surviving the Unexpected

Photo by Athena Pajer

Rebekah Icenesse

7:08pm, March 12, 2020. One email changed everything. One email changed my entire college career; everything that I knew.

Everything campus-related is cancelled. Even moving forward with commencement still has to be decided.

As a senior who graduates in May, this email came as a complete shock. At first, they told us classes were resuming as normal, and then the next day they said classes are to be online until the end of the semester. This drastic change of events was not what I was expecting on a Thursday evening. There was no warning. No one was prepared for their whole semester to change.

At first, seeing the memes and jokes on social media about school closings and classes moving online were funny, but now that it’s actually happened, it’s not a joking matter. Now I’m not laughing at this. The memes all over social media are now reminders of the months stripped away from me that I’ll never get back. I am devastated.

As I was reading through the long email, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even know what to feel. My head was spinning and I was just trying to not cry as I read the email out loud to my parents. Then the initial shock wore off.

I was so angry that in the last two months of my senior year, classes were being cancelled and I wasn’t going to be allowed to finish anything on campus. I was sad and hurt that I will have missed opportunities from not being able to be on campus and continue my studies in class. But ultimately, I was so confused.

Why did this happen? What went wrong?

I don’t have any answers. All I have is two emails that contradict each other. That’s my only closure. As someone who took their college studies so seriously, it saddens me that I am not able to finish out my senior year on campus, surrounded by the school that I love.

I am a senior with a 4.0 GPA and I’ve made the dean’s list seven semesters. I worked my butt off the last three and a half years to get to where I am now and to have all of it be taken away from me in the last two months of my senior year, I am infuriated and heartbroken. I want to scream and cry—but that’s not going to help solve anything.

I just want my senior year back. This was supposed to be the best year and the best last semester I will ever have in college. These last moments on campus and making memories that I can look back on later, I won’t get to have that now. I get online classes and no chance to make my last semester of college memorable.

All of the friends I made in my classes, I won’t get to say goodbye to them. My favorite professors I got close to, I won’t get to say goodbye to them. I didn’t realize the last time I stepped into a classroom would really be the last time I will ever be in a college classroom. I didn’t realize the last time I walked across campus would be the last time I will be able to be on campus.

I understand why the decision was made, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It doesn’t take away the heartache of not being able to finish out your last semester strong and proud. I feel cheated. I feel not considered. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel confused. I feel like my last months of my senior year have been ripped away from me and all I get as compensation is an email that leaves more questions than answers. All I thought about this whole school year was how proud I am going to be to finish out my year strong. Now all I can think about is whether or not my classes can handle the switch to being online and if I will be able to walk across the stage at graduation.

I know I am not the only one who is hurt by this decision, but as a senior who had so many amazing experiences and opportunities from Millikin, it hurts my heart that this is how my college career is going to end, on a laptop with the new online class curriculum. This was not how my senior year was supposed to go.

I do not know what is going to happen before graduation, but all I can do is learn how to cope with the new changes. Adapt to the uncertain situations and survive the unexpected. That’s all I know.

I’m bitter right now, but I know life will go on. It just hurts right now and that’s okay. I have a right to feel heartbroken about this.

But I’m not going to let this stop me from getting my degree and continuing to live my life.

This is just a bump in the road. Another mountain that I have to climb over. I’ll get over it eventually, but while I’m on the journey, I’ll remember to cherish the little moments and the memories I have created in the best four years of my life. Because nothing is guaranteed.