The COVID-19 pandemic affected all levels of education in more ways than one. With the class of

2020 and 2021 gratefully affected by the pandemic, you start to wonder how they feel. Over the past year, a large number of students have come forward to share their experience with this shift and their feelings vary across the board.

My interviews started with Jasmine who is a current graduate of George Mason University with a bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in data analysis. She explains to me that leading up to graduation she was “st

ressed out and worried but not about graduation.” The future was what she was scared about the most. “Finding an apartment and a roommate and mentally preparing for the next steps,” she states are what is giving her the most anxiety in general.

 

She expressed to me that even though she is continually asked what her future entails, she gives an answer filled with pride: “Come the new school year, I’ll be in a graduate program in Johns Hopkins University for their Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology and Biophysics program. It’s a mouthful, but it’s one I’m excited to be a part of because in six years I’ll be graduating again—with a Ph.D. “ As she aims for her bright future as a Black woman with a doctorate, she expresses that she knows she’s not ready for adulthood, “I still dunno how to do taxes, I’ve never paid rent or done my own bills. I feel prepared to move on to my next program and continue my education but not to be an ‘adult’.”

 

With the beginning of the pandemic starting last March 2020, the class of 2020 bore the brunt of the pandemic and had no choice but to graduate online or permanently socially distanced. Jasmine acknowledges that even though graduation was different than expected from her freshman self, she is grateful to even have the chance to walk the stage.

 
She concludes the interview with: “Graduating is relieving. After a challenging and wild four years, I am so happy to be done and move on to the next chapter of my life. But it’s also one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. But I don’t think I would have done anything differently.”

 

Burnt out yet grateful: Graduates of the 2021 class are ready for a mental and physical break