As the number of weeks left in the spring semester dwindle, it is time to acknowledge the Class of 2020.
Typically, the end of the semester brings a buzz of excitement to campus. The University is in bloom, the weather is beautiful, and students can be found sitting outside of academic buildings finishing up the last of their course work.
While this campus atmosphere is something we look forward to each year, it has been taken away from us suddenly, leaving our seniors grappling with the idea of having to finish their last semester away from campus.
Instead of preparing for their last round of finals in the Whittemore Library, sharing dinners together with friends in the Dining Commons, and having one final hurrah on campus as they personalize their caps with commencement on the horizon, our seniors are finishing their degrees alone at home while faced with an unstable economic market.
But it does not in any way erase all of the tremendous work they have put into their hard-earned degrees. Which, regardless of what happens in the next few months, they will all still be able to earn.
And that’s worth celebrating.
While we wish our seniors could walk across the stage with their friends and family cheering them on in the crowds this May, we know the decision to postpone commencement was just as crucial to our safety as moving all classes online.
But, it’s also important to acknowledge that our seniors’ prospects for the next few months will be more anxiety-producing than ever.
Instead of going to job interviews and visiting career services to construct their resumes, they now have to complete these things remotely while also juggling course work and adjusting to life at home.
For those who know seniors, remember they are not being dramatic when they talk about their fears for the future. Their feelings are valid.
To our seniors: it’s OK to feel angry that graduation is postponed.
It’s OK to feel heartbroken that you won’t get to say one last goodbye in person to your roommates and professors.
It’s OK to feel disappointed by having to finish your last semester of college remotely.
We acknowledge these feelings and we are here to support you until you cross that graduation stage someday soon.
Our FSU community, your friends, and your families are so proud of what you have accomplished – especially during this unprecedented time.
There will still be a graduation, even if it is not within the timeframe you had once hoped. Your hard work and accomplishments at FSU will still be celebrated.
You are, and always will be, a member of the FSU community for the rest of your lives. And you will always have the memories you made at FSU.
From your first steps on campus during freshman orientation, to every weekday you spent studying before weekends with friends, to finally submitting your application to graduate this May, these memories will always be with you as an honored alumni.
Earning your college degree is remarkable, and speaks to your extraordinary strength, commitment, and abilities as a student and as a person.
Regardless of the remainder of your semester not being what you were expecting, you are still the graduating Class of 2020.
You will walk that stage eventually. But, most importantly, you will keep the memories close to your heart, and you will have earned your degree.
That is something no one, and no pandemic, can ever take away from you.