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For many in the class of 2020, graduation is particularly bittersweet: the capstone of years of hard work, but without physical ceremonies. Three new college graduates reflect on what it's like to graduate during the pandemic.
Rosanna Lara, Northern Essex Community College, Associate's Degree in Public Health
I graduated from Lowell High in 2006. Then I began going to college at Middlesex, but I didn’t finish. It took me longer, but I never give up.
After so many years of hard work and dedication, taking [in person graduation] away from us is kind of hard. But the fact that we’re going to be still going into graduation, virtual[ly], it makes me really happy.
You can’t let things push you down. You have to fight for it. That’s why when you actually earn it, you actually appreciate it.
Jonas Ruzek, Northern Essex Community College, Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in journalism
I had to drop out of high school at the beginning of my junior year due to struggles with mental illness, so I feel pretty accomplished.
Graduation is the seal on your journey at an institution. You say goodbye to your professors, your peers, your friends. And [not having in-person commencement] it feels kind of incomplete and somewhat sad to me.
Part of the college experience that four years often advertise is connections you make in the academic world. Of course, you can’t make any real professional connections from your bedroom. So that definitely makes me a little nervous about the future.
I tend to set small goals for the day that end up contributing to the large goals and I just live day by day in the present.
Maia Hay, Wheaton College, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Visual Art
As much as it overall is devastating in some ways, it really, actually shows you what the really important things are in life.
I’m a first-generation college student so it’s been important and exciting for my family to achieve this. We’re getting champagne and my mom says we have to get actually dressed up for it. I’m excited to see everyone’s faces, even if it’s on the screen.
I know I’ll get my diploma in the mail, but even if I just get a piece of paper that says, ‘I graduated during COVID-19 in 2020,’ I’d love that. I’d frame it and put it on my wall.
Note: Sound design by Tim Skoog. Edited by Kathleen McNerney.
This segment aired on May 25, 2020.
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