And just like that, the spring semester of 2020 has come to a close. For some, this is the end of life at UD and in college. What would already be an incredibly bittersweet, exciting, and uncertain time has now been made more bittersweet and uncertain by the global pandemic. Seniors have not been able to say goodbye to professors, friends, and the campus as a whole. Closure for the end of this chapter will need to wait until we are able to have an in-person graduation at a later date.
Having said all of this, it seems the world really is sympathizing with seniors. In the past few days I watched as John Krasinski held a virtual graduation and commencement for graduating seniors on his YouTube show “Some Good News,” bringing together countless celebrities including Jon Stewart, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and even Malala Yousafzai. Then another virtual ceremony was held featuring the Obamas, LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Pharell Williams, and many many more.
What a strange time to be entering “the real world.” Despite the uncertainty and obvious disappointment in losing a typical senior spring, this is also a time of gratitude for me. I have been unbelievably fortunate through this period. I was able to continue living in Newark in a very comfortable apartment with my best friends where we have internet capable of supporting six computers all day. I have also remained healthy, and have been able to make the best of quarantine by being surrounded by wonderful friends.
My roommates and I have had countless movie nights, themed dinners, celebrated holidays, gone for social distancing picnics, take-out nights, drives blasting music, and we have even opened a home salon where several of us have had our hair cut or dyed (don’t worry, no bangs!). We have commiserated, but also shared our joy and gratitude for this time together.
Looking back on my time at UD, I have only endless gratitude. I owe so many thanks to the professors who have pushed and encouraged me, to the Honors program for being a support system and for providing countless opportunities, to the McNair Scholars program for facilitating my research and my path to graduate school, to the Writing Center for providing such a lovely work environment, and to all my fellow classmates, friends, and students who have changed and inspired me.
When I applied to UD and the Honors program, I wrote an essay on optimism. I wrote that I am optimistic because the beauty of humanity is that we are all constantly inspired and moved by each other. That people always change each other, sometimes for the better and sometimes not, and how wonderful that can be. While I cringe looking back on that essay, I feel the sentiment now more than ever. We may not be able to physically be together on campus for a graduation, but we will carry each other — friends, classmates, faculty, and staff alike — and UD with us for the rest of our lives. I would like to think as much as being a UD student has changed all of us, that we have also affected change to UD during our time by questioning the systems in place, furthering research, writing, performing, and more.
I think often on a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young. He writes, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”” And perhaps these last four years weren’t just “nice” but instead challenging, frustrating, difficult, joyous, and wonderful. We have been stressed and sleep-deprived, but also (hopefully) changed for the better, and if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.