The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

OPINION: Seniors cope with graduation postponement

OPINION: Seniors cope with graduation postponement - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Decorative caps from students during fall commencement at Freeman Coliseum Dec. 18, 2019. Spring 2020 commencement will be postponed because of COVID-19, Matson wrote in an email to students March 18. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University-San Antonio Flickr

Graduating members of the Mesquite staff share their feelings in light of Texas A&M University-San Antonio postponing graduation due to COVID-19 related health precautions. Commencement will be held on September 25 at the Freeman Coliseum. 

 

Coping with graduation changes following years of hard work
By Brittany Pichler

 

Graduation for many students is the end of an era. It’s a celebration students work years to achieve – years of sleepless nights, cramping hands and stress headaches from studying. But for students, all of that is worth it when you think of the moment you walk across the stage dressed in a cap and gown toward your degree. 

“I find myself staring at the yellow honor cord hanging on my wall. Was all the studying and nights without sleep for nothing?” – Brittany Pichler, Assistant Editor

On March 18, an email was sent to the Texas A&M University-San Antonio community announcing the postponement of the May 15 spring commencement until Sept. 25.

Now, we will wait another four months for the thrill of sitting among peers and tossing our caps into the air as it’s announced over the speaker in the Freeman Coliseum that we are graduates.

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the newsroom on campus at my desk reading articles about the coronavirus overseas, thinking it wouldn’t have any effect on my life. If only I could tell myself then what I know now..

During spring break, the realization of COVID-19 as a real threat settled in as panic, erupting across the globe as countless schools shifted to online courses to prevent the spread of the disease.

As a senior in my final semester, another panic ensued: graduation.

The fear of being unable to graduate on May 15 or experience my last semester on campus was a devastating blow I was not prepared for. It seemed as if nine years of hard work came crumbling down before my eyes.

Coming into my last semester, becoming the assistant editor at The Mesquite and making new friends has been the college experience I longed for. After years of online courses and attending classes during extended work lunch breaks, I was never able to get a true taste of university life. 

With graduation approaching, I found myself becoming genuinely sad about leaving in May. Little did I know that two short months later, I would find myself right back where I was before, taking online classes, unable to physically attend campus. 

Now, I’m left with the aching feeling of my last semester stolen, ripped out like a rug from beneath me. Not being able to share laughs in the newsroom with friends or discuss Orville Peck with my professor or attend my scriptwriting course bothers me to my core.

I find myself staring at the yellow honor cord hanging on my wall. Was all the studying and nights without sleep for nothing? When I open my closet and see the black cap and gown set aside, I fight back tears knowing the day I highly anticipated is postponed.

Graduation seems to be a minuscule problem against the current state of our world. However, for the students who have come so far, it feels like the end.

Although graduation has not been canceled, a helpless sense of defeat and sadness makes it hard to cope with the postponement.

While I feel broken now, I am hopeful for the future — there is a light at the end of this horrific tunnel.

We are still seniors, we are still graduating; that achievement is something that cannot be taken from us.

 

“Counting down” to the present moment
By Victoria Martinez

 

When I started as a transfer student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio in fall 2017, I never thought graduation would have approached so quickly. It was a little scary, but super exciting. I bought my cap and gown in February, and that moment made graduation feel more real.

“Class of 2020, our graduation ceremony getting postponed doesn’t mean we are not graduating and getting that degree we worked extremely hard for. We deserve it so much more, actually more than ever because we are finishing classes in a stressful, uncertain time for the whole world.” – Victoria Martinez, Photo Editor

I remember coming home, taking it out of the package and hanging it up in my closet. My Instagram story even got a glimpse of it and I tried it on in my room alone. I didn’t want to show any family or friends because I wanted to keep a surprise for the actual day. 

Fast forward to days before our first spring break, I remember hearing and seeing lots of stories about the coronavirus, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it because I was busy enjoying my senior year and working for the campus newspaper. 

On March 11, we got an email from President Cynthia Teniente-Matson about campus extending spring break for another week and transitioning all classes to online. I was getting ready to hang out with my friends and enjoy spring break when I read that email on my phone. 

My jaw fell to the floor and I could not believe it. I was not mentally ready for this huge life change. While reading the email, I didn’t even think about events coming up on campus or my spring graduation ceremony. I was just shocked about the news.

I began to feel anger and confusion, but when I was hanging out with my friends, my thoughts and feelings about it were paused. It felt like I was on the beginning of a rollercoaster – you know, when it’s rising up to the highest point and it doesn’t feel too scary until you reach the top for the big fall.

This rollercoaster of emotions and feelings didn’t reach the top until A&M-San Antonio announced on March 18 about the postponement of spring commencement. After reading that email, my heart broke into pieces and feelings went into full speed. 

Back in January, I downloaded a countdown app to motivate myself every time I opened my phone. I enjoyed seeing my graduation date every day getting closer and closer. 

The same night I read about the postponement, I bawled my eyes out in my boyfriend’s arms and immediately deleted the countdown app. I was disappointed and felt like my life was getting flipped upside down without any control of my own. I did not understand. 

For about three days straight I was stressed about online classes, concerned about my family and friends’ health, disappointed about events forced to be on pause and worrying about where to find essentials from the grocery stores like toilet paper. I never thought I would have to think about those things in my life. I cried so much about so many different things.

My new motto is to “live your life on a day to day basis” and stop thinking about what’s going to happen next week or next month. My main focus is still finishing this semester stronger than ever and not allowing this virus to take over my life. 

Class of 2020, our graduation ceremony getting postponed doesn’t mean we are not graduating and getting that degree we worked extremely hard for. We deserve it so much more, actually more than ever because we are finishing classes in a stressful, uncertain time for the whole world. Once those grades are submitted, we have graduated A&M-San Antonio and earned our degrees.

May 15 might be a difficult day for me, but I will be the proudest I’ve ever been for myself. Also, it means we can party not just once but twice.  

 

Supporting classmates amid graduation disappointment 
By Daniella Aldaco

 

Just a few weeks ago this coronavirus issue seemed far from home. It seemed like something that I thought wouldn’t make it to San Antonio or affect the community the way it has in such a short period of time already. 

The week we went on spring break, I didn’t think that would be the week we found out classes would switch to online instruction, and I definitely did not think it would be the last time I get to see my school friends. Now, I know it’s not like I am never going to see them again, but I will not get my senior semester with my friends back. 

“I will tell those of you who graduate this spring what I’ve been telling my friends: we earned this degree. We are still going to cross the stage and together we will get through this.” – Daniella Aldaco, Social Media Editor 

What bothers me most is the fact that I will not be able to go on campus anymore, be surrounded by my friends and co-workers and have our funny conversations or study together. This is my senior year and my last semester. I wanted the whole experience!

However, I am a homebody and I have accepted the fact that we have transitioned to online classes. If it means I can do my class work from home, where I can be comfortable and with my dogs, I am OK with it. I continue to have FaceTime calls with friends, and although our in-person social lives have changed, when I talk to them it makes me feel better and I know I am not alone in this because they are going through the same things. 

My response to the postponement of Spring Commencement differs from those of my co-workers. I was going to cross the stage in May 2020 for spring commencement, but I wasn’t going to officially graduate with my bachelor’s until August because of my internship. Most of my friends in the same major were going to graduate in May, although most of them were going to be officially done with classes/internships. I did wish that the day I cross the stage, I would be done with everything. There’s just something more meaningful about crossing the stage on graduation day and knowing you’re DONE – to know that you don’t need to come back in the summer to finish off one class or an internship. Now that Spring Commencement has been postponed to Sept. 25, I get to cross the stage knowing I am DONE with school and earned this degree! I still get to do it with my friends and it makes me so happy. 

Many friends of mine took the postponement of graduation pretty hard, and I completely understand where they are coming from. I could only imagine the frustration they felt to have to wait until September when you’ve been anticipating crossing that stage in May. Of course it’s heartbreaking. 

I have managed to be there and comfort those close to me being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will tell those of you who graduate this spring what I’ve been telling my friends: we earned this degree. We are still going to cross the stage and together we will get through this. Trust the Texas A&M University-San Antonio community when they say our graduation is going to be extra special. Our hard work to get to this point will not go unnoticed. 

We are still A&M-San Antonio graduates of spring 2020.

About the Authors

Brittany Pichler
Brittany Pichler
Managing Editor
Brittany Pichler is a senior communication major with a minor in sociology at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Brittany has an extensive background in marketing, having worked for a local San Antonio agency previously. She has since moved her expertise to writing, her biggest passion. After graduation in spring 2020, she looks forward to pursuing her master’s in creative writing and film at Sarah Lawrence or Columbia University in New York. Brittany aspires to become an author and screenwriter in the future. In her spare time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and binge watching shows on Netflix.
Victoria Martinez
Victoria Martinez
Managing Editor
Victoria Martinez is a senior communication major with a minor in sociology at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and photo editor for the Mesquite. Victoria received an associate degree in journalism from Palo Alto College in spring 2017. Her biggest passion is photography and capturing candid moments. Her goals after graduation in spring 2020 is to become a photojournalist and continue her own photography business. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her boyfriend, watching reality television and going out dancing to latin music.
Daniella Aldaco
Daniella Aldaco
Managing Editor
Daniella Aldaco is a senior Communications major with a minor in Sociology at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Daniella is the social media editor for the Mesquite. She is a graduate of Palo Alto College. She hopes to work in Public Relations when she graduates. Daniella loves fashion, coffee and scary movies. One of her goals is to begin a fashion blog on the side of doing public relations. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing at home with her three dogs.

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