Opinion: To the Class of 2020

A week ago, my sister sent me a short article that said “Dear Class of 2020, you entered the world during 9/11. You graduate during a pandemic.” My class will not be remembered as the Class of 2020, but as the Class of COVID-19. We will go down in history books as the only class that did not conventionally graduate. In two months, we were supposed to graduate side by side; instead, we will be isolating in our homes. In two months, we were supposed to hug and congratulate each other; instead, we are afraid to even be around one another.

But, the rest of the article read “No doubt these events will shape you. You see beyond borders. You savor the good. You relish healthy lifestyle habits. The celebrations may need to wait. And you are okay with that. We are proud of you.” This message did not really resonate with me, until the night when President Loh officially canceled the rest of the semester’s in-person classes and our Spring 2020 Commencement. While this did not come as a shock to me, it was, and still is, disappointing. However, health comes first. No one could have predicted a virus would shut down the entire world – causing panic and chaos across countries.

So, QUEST Class of 2020, I implore all of us to recognize our fortune – that we had the privilege to be both UMD and QUEST students. We have spent the past three and a half years growing up at UMD, surrounded by the amazing QUEST community. We will miss the classes and friendships that come along with QUEST and the QUEST lab, but the relationships and knowledge we built will supersede our four years of college. Our graduation has to wait because health should and will always come first. But during this time, we need to focus on what we gained from our time in QUEST and recognize that our graduation, or our graduation celebrations, are not what shape our time or ending to college. The relationships we have created, the experiences we have shared, and the opportunities we have built for ourselves should be what we remember and value from our time at UMD. While we cannot hold a communal commencement, each of us should recognize and celebrate our time as QUEST and University of Maryland students.

Best of luck to the Class of 2020, and Go Terps!

Kara Eppel (Cohort 29) is a senior studying Accounting and Information Systems.

Cohort 29 at the Spring 2019 QUEST Conference
Cohort 30 at the Fall 2019 QUEST Conference

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