For Concordia’s class of 2020, nothing ended as expected. Usually the end of senior year at Concordia brings commencement, a senior banquet and a swim in Prexy’s Pond, but this year, Concordia’s campus will be silent on the first days of May. For the graduating seniors, four years of hard work will unceremoniously come to an end after the global COVID-19 pandemic forced students online for the rest of the semester and led to the postponement of the commencement ceremony and other end of the year activities and events.
Graduation without the pomp and circumstance is not what seniors expected going into their final year of school.
“It’s kind of surreal and doesn’t feel like it’s happening,” said Kara Anderson, a mathematical finance major. “I was thinking the other day, when I graduate, I’ll just probably be sitting on my couch.”
The move to online classes for the remainder of the semester and a postponed graduation ceremony leaves no room for many of the typical “lasts” that come with the end of college. There is not time for a last walk through campus or a last meal in DS with friends. The last final exams and papers will be turned in online instead of in the classroom.
“It stinks, for the most part, to not have the closure of wrapping up with my friends, and with professors,” said Mark Fitterer, a communication studies and Spanish double major. “It sounds so miniscule, but getting those last things in before I leave… it’s just the closure part of it.”
The lack of closure with friends and classes is just one piece of the puzzle. For students in band, choir and other music ensembles, the cancellation of end of year performances left no space for closure. The MIAC cancelled the spring season before it even started for most sports, meaning many athletes did not get the chance to compete in their final seasons at all.
Anderson was one of the athletes that had her final year of collegiate competition cut short. She ran on the cross country and track teams for all four years of college, and was looking forward to her final season of outdoor track.
“I had high goals, and even if I wouldn’t have reached them, at least I would have gotten to try,” she said.
With the sudden changes to the end of his senior year, Mason Stevenson, a political science major, has started to reflect on his favorite parts of his time at Concordia.
“I really enjoyed getting to know people on such a personal and intimate basis through the workings of Concordia,” he said. He reminisced about getting to know his clubbies during orientation and making friends in the dorms during his first year of college, and thinks that the college’s efforts to make a Cobber community made all the difference.
“Even if I didn’t normally hang out with someone, there was never really a time when I felt like I couldn’t be a part of someone’s niche,” he said.
Uncertainty about the future is a common theme among those graduating this semester. With the future uncertain, plans for jobs or further education are also up in the air.
Fitterer’s plans for the summer involve finding a part-time job or internship, and in the fall, he hopes to go to Spain to help teach English, but due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, those plans could change.
“I just have to sit here and wait like a duck to see what’s going to happen and try to figure it out as the time comes,” he said.
According to an announcement on March 25 from President William Craft, the commencement committee is exploring possible options for an event to honor the spring graduates and recognize their years of hard work. Even through the challenging and unprecedented times, Concordia is attempting to help bring closure to the end of a college experience cut short.