Forty days from now, I was supposed to walk across the stage at my college graduation. The plans had been made and the hotels were booked. I had even carefully picked out my cap design. For four years, I’ve worked towards this moment, and over a couple hours, it was taken away. Despite this, I’m not upset that I won’t walk at commencement; I’m sad that I’ll never get to work in another classroom. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to finish my classes out with the guy who has sat by me for eight semesters straight. I’m angry that my friends are miles apart. The COVID-19 crisis has been unprecedented, but I believe my graduating class will be just the same. While there is chaos all around us, there are many things I am still thankful for.
This spring, I won’t be running between classes at one of the prettiest campuses in the US. I will never walk across campus again as a student. However, I have so many incredible memories to look back on. In August, I had a cardiac ablation the week before school started and I thought that it would be the craziest part of my senior year. Boy, was I wrong. In the first few weeks, I was exhausted just making it to the bus stop or to my first course. Over the year, I have been pushing myself further and further, and I made my way between the buildings. I’m thankful for the places that felt like my home and the strength they helped me find.
Making an impact
In addition to working with Pearson, I have had the incredible opportunity to work with the Program for Women in Science and Engineering at Iowa State in their K-12 outreach programs. I won’t reach the 100 visits I had set out to do, but over the past four years, I have still made an enormous impact in my community. In 86 different classrooms, STEM fests, or Girl Scout troops, I was able to share the reasons I love science and engineering with over 6,000 students. I’m thankful for the lessons they taught me and the opportunity to share my story with them.
Learning by planning
Last February, I got to celebrate my last Engineers’ Week after months of planning. So many events have been canceled because of the pandemic, and many of them would be my last. Like many students around me, I have spent the past four years as a part of a student organization and have become close with the people I work with. Long nights go into planning events, and the hours spent all feel worth it when you see it come together; however, many won’t have that opportunity. I’m thankful for the things we were able to complete and for the lessons I learned in the pursuit of others.
This is my senior year; I’ll be finishing my coursework in my apartment or at my parent’s house instead of in a lecture hall. I won’t get to sit in the leftie desk third from the aisle again. This isn’t the way I wanted to leave my college chapter, but because of it, I know I’ll be stronger, more adaptive, and ready to tackle what comes next. My campus is in crisis, and for that, my heart breaks, but I am confident the class of 2020 will come out on top.