Elizabeth Zepper reflects on how the coronavirus and the closing of campus at Texas Tech will be an event to shape 2020 graduates.Elizabeth Zepper will receive a bachelor's degree in business information technology at Texas Tech University. Her reflections of her final college semester is the second in a series of senior perspectives, which will appear each Monday and Thursday through the month of May at today.ttu.edu.
Being a graduating senior in college is like taking the knowns of your life, your occupation, your city and your community, and giving all of these a time limit.
This spring semester promised graduating seniors that one day in May we would celebrate graduating from Texas Tech University with our family and friends. After that celebration, the uncertainty of the future would set in. However, this spring, that season of unpredictability entered our lives sooner than expected.
Like everyone else, one week in March, the certainties of our lives changed. A semester of attending last classes, taking last finals and saying goodbyes to closest friends seemed secure and even something to which we were entitled. Indeed, four years of hard work and memories should not have to end this way, like an essay without a conclusion.
Being a senior, in college or high school, brings a unique perspective during this time; that being said, this distinct viewpoint should not take away from the gravity of the current situation. We may not walk the stage in May, but people around us are suffering from anxiety, financial disparity and illness.
Health concerns about family, especially parents and grandparents, are persistent. Loved ones are being directly impacted by the virus itself. First responders and essential workers are putting their lives at risk for people they do not know. COVID-19 has made an impact on all our lives. Awareness of the severity of these circumstances makes the sadness and confusion of this season easier to manage. In fact, the entitlement of a perfect ending to a chapter does not hold a legitimate claim in the unpredictability of life.
While I want to grieve the times I will not experience, I would rather reflect on the experiences I did have. I think back to my first semester of college and how every event since then has shaped my character. College is as much about developing a sense of self and values as it is about earning credit hours in a degree plan.
While we may be the class that coronavirus cancelled, the past four years have a bigger impact on our lives than these few months. I do not wish for my college experience to be defined by these current circumstances. However, this experience will shape us as the rest of life does. Hopefully, it will push the 2020 graduates to be more grateful for things they have, to be more compassionate of others who are suffering and to be more understanding that life is too unpredictable to feel entitled to an experience.
Throughout my college career, I have heard people describe Texas Tech graduates as tough and resilient. This identity of resiliency will sustain us as Texas Tech students, as future alumni and as a community in West Texas. Regardless of the uncertainty and the anxiety of the future, I am forever proud to be a Red Raider.