Graduating During COVID-19

Article by Devyn Wilson

No one saw quarantine coming. No one believed that we would have to leave campus for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. It was just a rumor that we would discuss while at Trim. We had all convinced ourselves that the ‘Babson Bubble’ would remain just that: a bubble, which–we desperately hoped–was impenetrable by COVID-19.

I vividly remember that email being sent out. The one bearing THE news. When I got the email, I was in Reynold’s for a Panhellenic meeting (which, due to the news, of course, naturally ended early). Walking through Reynold’s after the meeting broke my heart, and it is a scene that I will never forget. It was dinner-time, so it was quite packed, and every single person there–like myself–was visibly devastated.

We were in shock: we did not want to believe that the rumor had become a reality.

We did not want to leave.

The week before moving out was somewhat of a blur. Even with all of the tears and the good-byes (and believe me, there were a staggering amount of tears), I still found myself in utter shock. In some way, it felt as though we were just leaving for Winter Break, and that we would be returning to campus in just a couple of weeks. It was so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this was how my senior year–and four years at Babson-would be coming to an end.

As a senior, when I received the news, I had a million thoughts running through my mind.

I thought of graduation.

When would this be?

Would it still be happening?

What would it even look like?

I thought of Senior Week, SODAs, my last Spring Concert, my last sorority formal (which I had ironically bought a non-returnable dress for literally the day before the email was sent out). All the fun activities I had looked forward to since my Freshman year now no longer existed.

I found myself thinking how I would have to move back home to Camas, Washington, a total of 2,984 miles away from Babson, and how I would have to say goodbye to my closest friends without knowing when I would see them next (and that I would have to say goodbye to everyone within a matter of days… while also taking midterms… while also packing up and moving out).

I was also unemployed when the news came out. I wasn’t even interviewing anywhere. While I was fortunate enough to move back home, I found myself thinking about how near to impossible it would be to get a job in an economy that wasn’t hiring. Seeing how so many of my friends were either having their job offers pushed back or taken away was absolutely terrifying.

I had no idea what my classes would look like… I had no idea what my campus jobs would look like or if they would even continue… I had no idea how I would continue the extracurriculars I was so passionate about.

I didn’t know anything. There were so many unknowns, and I felt myself shutting down and pulling away in response to this.

While it is certainly not the same as in-person interaction, let me just say… thank goodness for the internet.

At first, the online transition was tough. For one, my WIFI sucked. The time-difference also sucked (almost more than the WIFI issues). I hated waking up at 6:44 am for my 6:45 am (once 9:45 am) class, and to make matters worse, I didn’t even have a desk. It was hard to stay focused (especially when netflix, specifically, “Tiger King,” was just a click away), and I found myself frequently thinking that there was no way I would get good grades this semester. Also, at first, I didn’t feel as engaged in my different extra-curricular involvements as I had been on campus, as all the different events and projects that we had been working on had now been put on pause.

However, when looking back on my past four years at Babson, I was actually able to accomplish the most during this past Spring Semester, and I owe it all to Babson’s community.

I got the highest GPA I have ever gotten during my Babson experience. I owe this to the support, flexibility, and patience demonstrated by my professors and peers.

The extracurricular organizations I was a part of figured out creative ways to meet and keep members involved, in addition to programming for next year. I also saw this with many other organizations hosting campus-wide events to keep the student body engaged. I attribute this to Babson’s dedicated, passionate, and caring student body leaders and faculty.

I started a branding company, and am already working with multiple clients. I owe my professional success to the help and guidance provided by CCD.

Looking back on when I first got that email, if I had known just how supportive, strong, and resilient Babson’s community of leaders would be, I wouldn’t have been so devastated. I guess it was just because there were so many unknowns… little did we know that the experience of being remote wasn’t as bad as everyone dramaticized it to be.

Overall, with everything that has happened globally within the past couple of months, which resulted in us having to leave campus and our senior year being cut short, I find myself still reflecting on one truth:

We did not want to leave.

We were all upset to leave our professors, faculty, friends, campus jobs, and extracurricular involvements. I know our class, in particular, was especially upset to go considering how much we had looked forward to our senior year spring semester.

If anything, seeing how upset we all were goes to show just how amazing Babson’s community is. While, sure, we all would occasionally complain about the little things, like the chicken at Trim, the unnecessary difficulty of our exams (*cough* MAC + TOM *cough*), how packed the third floor of the library would get during midterms, or the early-morning construction right outside of our dorm room windows, we STILL did not want to leave.

While having to leave campus was heartbreaking, I think we learned a valuable lesson while being apart: we learned that community is not dependent on proximity. If anything, being separated prepared us to be leaders in Babson’s global community. We used ET&A to continue to make the most of our Babson experience, even while apart. Talk about ‘pivoting,’ amiright? (I’m an FME Mentor, I had to).

Essentially, even though we, the class of 2020, will be moving on to different chapters in our lives, we will all remain part of the same community: we will always be known as the class that was split up, but came back together.

I am so thankful to have been a part of such an amazing community, and I am so thankful to have been a member of the class of 2020. Babson will forever be my home, and to my amazing class: I can’t wait to see you soon. Thank you for the best four years of my life.