What Graduating During a Pandemic Taught Me

It has been almost a full year since I was expected to graduate from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. At the beginning of last March, I was excited to enjoy my last semester of college. I had just flown to Nashville for spring break. When I left Nashville, I never went back to school.

Just like many others whose plans were changed, my college semester went completely online and I went home to NY. I was extremely confused, upset and wanted things to go back to normal. However, now I can reflect back on what I learned in the past year after graduating in a pandemic.

Our class of 2020 had planned senior week, graduation parties, dinners, and events. I was most upset about not being able to walk in front of my family at my graduation ceremony. Even though I did not get the graduation I wanted, I felt so blessed to be healthy, and have a family I could go home to. That put everything into perspective. Especially because so many people were going through real struggles. I was happy I still had the things I valued most: health, family, and relationships.

In the early stage of quarantine, things were so opposite of my previous college life. I had been so busy before with friends, my job, events, parties, and schoolwork that I hadn’t had time to slow down and reflect. When I went on long walks outside, played games with my family, and journaled I found it really nice to disconnect from my fast-moving life.

Although I was enjoying my slower-paced life, I wanted some closure to celebrate earning my degree. Celebration is something I value especially after working so hard. My family decided to have a makeshift party which helped me move on from my undergraduate life. This is your reminder that any reason to celebrate something positive is a good idea(even if it's on a small scale). However, I did miss my friends at our family celebration.

Post high school and college, there are a lot of friendships and relationships you end up with(good or bad). Taking the time to reach out to the people that matter to you is so important. It is easy to lose those relationships if you don't put in enough effort. Additionally, if you recognize a relationship isn’t positive or uplifting, you have the option to distance yourself.

The main thing I learned from my pandemic graduation is that the people and the communities that I invested my time into at Lehigh are what made it special. During college (or anytime in life) get involved in communities that will connect you to others. Even though I live in New York now, I still have those people, communities, and memories that continue to bring joy to my life!

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