By Leanne Hamilton
Around this time last week, I remember looking at my planner at the numerous assignments and reminders I had yet to cross off my ‘to do’ list. I felt there weren’t enough hours in the day to get all I needed done before spring break, and the senioritis was kicking in fast. Now that all seems so long ago, in a time that felt normal when now it feels anything but.
I was where I wanted to be: on campus. And I could confidently look forward and think that all the work of the last five weeks of the semester would be rewarded with commencement in May, when I would be free of homework and classes. Now that COVID-19 has forced us all home, the one place I want to be for the next few months is indefinitely off limits to me. I am one of hundreds of thousands of students, both at Saint Michael’s and other campuses, going through this disappointment.
When the news broke it felt as if we were mourning the news of a death on campus. Everyone moped about to class, my roommates and I waved to each other in passing with tears brimming in our eyes, and classes were quiet instead of the usual chatter of sports events or other activities we all looked forward to participating in. Even now, days later and after the three hour drive home, it doesn’t feel real. Coming home for a week of spring break has turned into an extended stay of quarantine for two extra weeks–with the potential to be permanent.
I keep hoping these two weeks are necessary so that I have the chance to return to campus for the remainder of my senior year. To come back would allow seniors like me to finish our time at Saint Michael’s College as we had hoped; enjoying our last P-Day and Derby Day with friends we have made over the years, not miles apart from each other in different states.
I worked commencement my sophomore year and watched my friends walk up to the stage and shake President Neuhauser’s hand as he handed them their diploma. I can’t wait until it is my turn to shake President Sterritt’s hand as she hands me my diploma, but now I fear I won’t get to. Along with the fear of losing our commencement, the seniors of 2020 have many other fears creeping in earlier than expected. Many of us are split between two homes; the ones we came from and the one we have built here in Vermont. Finding a job for post graduation feels more rushed now if we are to remain away from campus for the rest of the spring semester. Most of us are wondering if there will be any jobs the way the economy is crashing due to the effects of COVID-19. It’s hard to apply for jobs when the uncertainty of graduation lingers in the back of our minds.
Taking away our time from campus feels like we’ve been dropped into the real world sooner than we anticipated and we don’t know what to do.
I chose Saint Michael’s College because of the strong sense of community. Having now completed almost four years, this community has become a foundation in my memories at Saint Michael’s. While I sit at home, preparing for online classes, I have become even more aware of this tight community. The people I have surrounded myself with these past four years have not dropped communication just because we are no longer on campus. We are all trying our best to adjust and find a way so that we can all stay in touch. If there is one thing the COVID-19 virus has shown us, it is that the reason we are all so desperate to return to campus is because we want to surround ourselves with this close community. We were reluctant to leave because it meant saying goodbye to the community we love. In this strange time, I hold hope that we will return to campus after this extended break. Let’s make a promise to do so, if it’s April, May or even September, let’s say “See ya later,” instead of “Goodbye.”