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My Last Semester of College and the Pandemic

Illustration of a bird with a graduation cap on a branch with the words

In my last semester at UIC, I never expected a full out pandemic to occur. I am sure no one expected COVID-19 to totally change the way of living in the United States but, like everyone else, I simply listen to the instructions that are given to me and try my best to make sure everyone around me is safe. Despite the initial concern for me and my loved one’s health, for the past few weeks, my top priority has been my future.

To begin, I currently live on-campus at UIC. While the university stated that students are allowed to live in the dorms during the crisis, many of my neighbors have moved out, leaving the dorms barren and somewhat eerie. I am lucky that my family lives in Chicago, but I choose to reside in the dorms during this time because I am afraid that the distractions that I find in my home life will trample my current work ethic. It is a difficult decision to stay in my dorm room, completely alone without being able to have guests or interact with my neighbors but it is something that I chose for my own mental health and stability.

Another thing that completely uprooted my life is the cancellation of commencement. After 4 years of constant studying and working towards my degree, there will be no ceremony to honor my success. It is difficult because not only is the degree commencement cancelled but also my Honors College graduation. I will no longer be honored for the nine months’ worth of work that I did for my capstone. This situation has prompted me to question if I should even continue to put in effort for the remainder of the semester. Not only am I disappointed, but so is my family, specifically my parents as I am the only child out of five to graduate from college.

Lastly, and most importantly, the thing that weighs on me the most is my future come post-grad. With hiring freezes in place, I don’t believe that I will be able to find a job after graduation. Even with a high GPA and an internship, my future seems bleak. I always expected to be employed by the time that I graduated from college. I worked hard during my four years at UIC to make sure that my post-grad goals would happen. Now, there is nothing but uncertainty. When will companies start hiring again? Will the job market go back to the way it was? Will my skills even be needed? In the few short months since the world was introduced to the Coronavirus, what I expected from my final semester of college has been completely overturned and I am no longer sure what my future holds.


— Sydney Richardson