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Caps, Gowns and Covid

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

The Class of 2020: In Their Own Words

Move over, Baby Boomers! Make way, Millennials! A new cohort has arrived on the scene. Meet Generation P, so named for the pandemic that has scuttled their plans for entering academia, the workforce and card-carrying adulthood in a dignified way. Instead of proudly marching across the stage at scheduled commencements this month, many of the masked members of the Class of 2020 have found themselves quarantined at home with Mom and Dad, facing an historically bleak job market, if not an outright second Depression.

What follows are interviews that the editor of The Insider has done this month with ten new graduates of high school, college, law school and medical school from around the country. These members of the Class of 2020 speak frankly about how they have experienced the onset of the pandemic. Admittedly, our definition of Generation P is expansive, since our interviewees range from 17 to 33 years old. But despite the differences in their ages and educational levels, we found that the members of this genus share the common experience of having had their lives upended by the unexpected, ultimately shocking, appearance of the pandemic. But despite the disappointment and turbulence they have recently undergone, our interviewees showed a remarkable degree of resilience and spunk in the face of these trying times. Our journalistic prognosis: the Class of 2020 will come roaring back when the current crisis has passed.

In their own words!


Celia Bottger

Celia Bottger

Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University on May 17 with a BA in international relations and environmental studies.

Age: 21

Graduation: It was not much of anything. They basically did a 40-minute-long YouTube video. It was administrators giving speeches. I didn’t really watch the whole thing, so I’m not entirely sure. They didn’t read names, or anything like that. They’ve postponed the graduation celebration until a later date. They don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s a huge disappointment, obviously, but there’s nothing anyone can really do about it. It’s to be expected. All colleges are doing that.

When school closed on March 10: Earlier that day, I had heard about Harvard closing, and I think that sent shock waves. If Harvard was closing, it was very likely that other schools would follow. It was really just a matter of time before Tufts announced that they were also going online. We were waiting for hours, not really knowing what was happening. But when I went to classes that day, all of my professors were just assuming that the next time we met, we would be online, so they were preparing for that.

The whole thing was so crazy--pretty unimaginable. In the matter of a few hours, your entire school closes, and everything you planned is just totally up in the air. That was the week before spring break, so we were not sure if we were still able to travel and for a few days, I was still planning on going to Asheville, North Carolina with a group of friends—we were going to road trip there--but it didn’t seem smart to be traveling in the middle of a pandemic. So within a couple of days, we had to cancel everything and get refunds. We finished out that week of classes, and then the school gave a week and a half of spring break, plus two or three extra days for the professors to prepare.

Remote teaching. Personally, my professors did a really great job of transitioning online. We only had about a month left of classes, at that point before finals period began. We had already done a lot of learning, and we had established the class; I was comfortable with my classmates; and I was also in mostly small seminar classes, so it was pretty easy just to meet as a group. One of my professors went up and beyond; he met with smaller groups of us. He was really great, and he just wanted us to get the best out of it. All of my professors were very accommodating.

Life at school: I lived in an off-campus apartment, so I was able to just stay. At Tufts, almost all juniors and seniors live off campus. So Tufts actually never even said anything about upperclassmen going home. They just said people in dorms had to leave. I was living six other people in a house, and we all decided to basically not really see other people. Obviously, we could see people from a distance, but you wouldn’t be going over to other people’s houses or anything like that. I was pretty much quarantined with six people the whole time. They’re some of my closest friends, so it was really great being with them for our last few months of college. There was a lot of emotion, and obviously a really tumultuous time, A lot of emotional ups and downs and everyone was trying to figure out what to do next. Overall, I felt very lucky to be with my close friends.

Summer plans: I don’t really have any plans. My plans were to travel after graduation, but obviously, that’s not feasible anymore. So I’m probably going to try to find some temporary work, if there’s any available. But it’s obviously a pretty awful job market. Obviously it’s pretty impossible to make any plans at this moment. So I’m just trying to take it slow at home, and find some projects to occupy my time. Once it’s safe to travel again, I really hope to be doing that.

Parents; They’re working. My mom is a therapist, so she’s doing a lot of tele-health from home, so she’s not seeing patients in person. My dad is a radiologist. He’s actually been working at home for this whole time and he just went back to the office this week. I have a twin brother, so we’re in the same situation. He was at Cornell. He actually came home a few months ago.

Any fall plans? I do not. My plans were to travel, so I’m trying to wait it out. I wouldn’t want to do any kind of grad school remotely or online. I was going to take a few years off anyway, so that plan hasn’t really changed.

Professional goals: My passion is climate change advocacy. In college, I have done a lot of climate activism, climate justice work, I also studied abroad last year. I was studying climate change in three countries: Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia. My hope is to continue that work. I’m really interested in sustainable development and community development. Ideally, I would like to be working abroad, But obviously, any kind of international work is not possible right now.

Do you think this is a generational turning point? Yes, I definitely do. I think my generation, and specifically people who graduated and were trying to enter the workforce, obviously there’s nowhere for us to turn. Many of us are just going back home, because that’s the only option and I think it will be many, many years before we are able to have stable jobs. I think this needs ti be a wake-up call to change the way that we live, and the way our society is organized. Because clearly, what’s happening now is not working for anyone.


Ellie Eiff

Ellie Eiff

Harrison High School in Westchester County, New York

Will be graduating in June

Age: 17

The onset of the pandemic: It was kind of crazy, at least for me. The only class we really talked about it in was my 20th Century History class. My teacher was always on top of the news. Every day, she’d say something about it. I felt like, it’s not a big deal, it’s across the ocean in Asia. It’s not a big deal. But in the span of one week, it was “it’s in Westchester, we’re done.” [New Rochelle, a small city in Westchester County, had one of the first outbreaks and quarantines in the country in early March.] By Friday of that week, there were a hundred cases in Westchester. That was definitely very intimidating and weird. When you think about global news, you don’t think of it being a 15-minute drive away. The next week, basically everyone was freaking out. That was my last week of school—that was it.

Remote classes: I’ve been pretty serious about them. I try to get my work done early in the day.

My school primarily doesn’t do video conferencing. That’s actually nicer, because I don’t have to worry about what I look like. It’s not audio; it’s like an online worksheet that you do for class. Most of my teachers are pretty creative, which is nice. Last week, we did a virtual Socratic seminar. You typed out a big response to a discussion. We could reply to each other’s comments.

Feelings about what happened this semester: There’s definitely a sense of disappointment. I think everyone is kind of struggling with that. The prom was supposed to be in two weeks, and of course, graduation. A lot of people celebrate Commitment Day, when everyone decides where they’re going to college. There are senior awards and saying goodbye and signing yearbooks. There are definitely key moments of high school that we’re missing out on, which is really unfortunate.

College plans: I got accepted to Skidmore back in December, because I applied early decision. I’m really excited. They are taking things day by day. They’re planning to open for the fall, but they’re also preparing if that doesn’t happen. I think everyone would prefer them to open, because we all just want to go back to some type of normalcy.

Pandemic precautions: Because our area is so heavily affected, a lot of people have a pretty strict idea of social distancing. I usually wear a mask, and most people do. Originally, I stayed in a lot. We thought my uncle had gotten COVID-19, but luckily, he didn’t. That was really scary, because we’d been with him a week earlier with my grandparents. So we stayed inside. It was hard for us to be in a very scared state for a little while. We’re definitely taking precautions. I have seen my friends on social distancing dates—we sit in our own cars and wear masks to see each other, which is really nice. The beginning was harder for me. My grandparents could have been exposed. My family could have been exposed. I think a lot of people realize how important this is.

This summer: I was originally going to work at Sandbox Theater, which is in Mamaroneck, a town over. I’m pretty into the arts, so I was going to be a counselor for a camp there. But we don’t know if that’s still happening. My family and I were planning to go to Italy for a graduation gift, but we won’t be doing that anymore. I look at it as though everything is getting pushed back a little bit. Graduation is going to be a little bit different. It’s harder for me to look at it like, “There’s so much disappointment,” because it makes me feel like it’s never going to be resolved. I think things are going to be made up for.


Shaina Ginsberg

Shaina Ginsberg

Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA

Graduated on May 27

Age: 17

Her Graduation: They are giving each kid a time to go into school, then walk the stage and get their diploma. You’re allowed to bring two guests. No other kids or their families will be there. And then they’re turning that into a virtual graduation. It’s very different. They put a lot of thought into it. People were kind of upset. People were hoping for them to postpone it to have a real graduation sometime next year. But I guess the administration just didn’t want to do that. Some people are happy, and some people wish it could be different.

The closing of school: It was on March 13. I remember the day really clearly. An elementary school student, a kid in our school district, tested positive for coronavirus. It was immediate—they called the parents; they didn’t even tell our principal. The parents told the kids. At this point, we were kind of happy, because we thought it would just be two weeks off. It was very chaotic; people were running around screaming; some people were really happy. Myself, I knew it would be longer, but I didn’t think school would be canceled totally.

Remote learning: Our transition was kind of weird. First we did go to remote learning. At first, it was just teachers emailing us. There wasn’t really much guidance. It wasn’t clear whether they’d be grading us. We didn’t know when deadlines were. It was very loose. Three weeks into it, they changed the system to include real-time online classes. I know that my school district was struggling, because not everyone had computers. I really didn’t learn anything. Even when we were viewing classes, the actually learning was very minimal. College acceptances came out a week later. I’m going to Boston University, and considering a major in international relations.

Summer Plans: I will be staying at home. People are trying to find work in whatever they can. People have been really resourceful about finding things to do to make money.

News about the fall semester: Nothing definitive. B.U. was one of the first schools to release a plan for canceling the fall semester. It was just a hypothetical, but there were a lot of mistaken media reports that they had cancelled it. It was really just a plan. Their plan as of now is to return to in-person classes. However, if for some reason they can’t, they will not do online learning. The university will cancel the fall semester. I like that. I think that’s the better way to do it. We would come back in January.

Things I missed: I am definitely upset about graduation. That is something that I had really looked forward to. It’s kind of weird to be in this transition. I’m done with high school now, but I’m still not sure where I will be going in the fall. We don’t want to be disappointed again. I know that a lot of people were upset that the prom didn’t happen. Personally, I learned about the limitations of technology. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk that this shows we can transition to technology, but for me and a lot of my classmates, we feel the opposite. It’s really not the same and we would much prefer to be in person.


Breanne Greaves

Breanne Greaves

Nassau Community College in Long Island, New York.

Graduated on May 21 with an Associate in Arts in Human Services and Social Welfare

Age: 26

Commencement: Initially, I was excited to go to the graduation, then the pandemic happened. So when we found out that it was going to be a virtual graduation, we didn’t really have our hopes up. At that point, we were just exasperated. There was so much going on that the last thing we cared about was the graduation itself. On graduation day, nothing was working, nothing was up yet. It took almost an hour and a half. By that point, I didn’t care anymore. It was hard to navigate it. Millennials and Gen Z’s, we’re very tech-savvy, so imagine us not being able to navigate a website! We were frustrated.

Effects of the pandemic on her life: I had more time to study. To work on my classes. Before, I was working full-time as a shift leader at Planet Fitness, a gym, training the staff members how to operate the systems and do customer service. When the gyms closed, and I was at home, it gave me more time to just study. I kind of miss high school, when all you had to do was go to school and come home and study. It was really good, actually. We got furloughed. We didn’t know we were closing at all, and then Cuomo announced it March 16. Our jobs are still available; we can still file for unemployment.

Plans now: I’m thinking of moving out of state. I might move to Georgia. I had applied for the Transportation Security Administration a long time ago. The process is extensive—there’s a background check, a credit check, a medical exam, an eye exam. I’m actually in the last stages, so I’m waiting for a phone call. I’m also looking into other jobs down there in the social work realm, just in case that doesn’t work. That’s the plan. I want to move down there and work a few years. That way, I’d get residency, so I can go to Georgia State University. There’s a $10,000 difference between in- and out-of-state tuition. I’m thinking of sociology, just so I could broaden my range. Depending how I feel when I finish, I may get my master’s degree in social work.

Do you know people who have gotten sick? A security guard from my high school passed away. The father of one of my friends from Nassau Community College passed away. Because I lost my father last year, she knows that I empathize. She knows I’m here for her.

Personal changes because of the pandemic: You realize that life is too short to put your energies into things that won’t matter in a couple of years. It’s definitely humbled me in that way. I don’t have to fight for every single thing. To finally finish and not be able to celebrate with our friends, now that we can’t go outside, now that we can’t see our loved ones in the way we want to, makes me want to take every opportunity I can to do so when this has subsided, to the extent it’s safe to do so. I basically want to go see my friends, and to go see my cousin I haven’t seen for awhile, and call all of my aunties. I wasn’t really the one to always go out, but I might have to be that person now.


Hemani Kalia

Hemani Kalia

Nathan Hale High School in Seattle

Will be graduating in June

Age: 18

Commencement: Graduating high school is our first big accomplishment. Not having a ceremony, a usual one, is tough. We’re trying to have something as close to that as we can. I’m trying to stay positive about it, but if we don’t have the graduation, there will be no sense of closure. I’ve spent four years with these teachers and students and administrators but won’t get to say goodbye and thank you. I really hope that we have some kind of in-person ceremony.

The end of school: It was a Wednesday. At first, we were going to be out of school for two weeks. That’s what we were told. We found out at lunch, so we all left. This is the time of year we would usually have had our last activities: the prom, the last pep assembly, Spirit Days, Senior Breakfast. It’s bigger than just graduation--there are a lot of things that happen during this time, so at first, that was the thing we were most distraught about. Then, as time goes on, you know you’re going to be missing more and more activities. Tomorrow, we’re having a drive-through at Nathan Hale so we can pick up the caps and gowns that we ordered. It’s going to be exciting. Our teachers plan on being there; they’ll wave and cheer as we stop. It will be the first time to see everybody since high school got out.

Remote learning: None of our teachers were prepared to do online schooling. We’re learning as we go. I think they tried to do their best. At first, it was nice to just see everyone on Zoom. But as time has gone on, we’ve been doing this for two months now. It’s not the same as being in a classroom. You don’t have that kind of energy. It’s kind of disheartening, the fact that this is what it’s come to.

At the present: I call people up, take care of my family, work out and go on runs, and go to nearby parks that are still open. That’s all with social distancing. I’m trying to make the most of my days, staying strong physically with racing and strength, but also academically.

For me, school in general is like an outlet for me from everything else in life. That’s where I see all my friends and my peers and the staff. Not having that, is kind of sad. Yeah, you can stay in touch with your friends and your people, but it’s not the same, because there’s no actual physical social interaction. It’s time to focus on yourself, I guess, and make sure you’re doing okay too. Try checking on your people.

Future plans: I’m going to Clackamas College in Oregon to play basketball.

Lasting impact of the pandemic: On a certain level, I hope that maybe my generation will start to appreciate the life around us a little bit more, because it can go away just like that. You know, being able to hang out with your friends, or go to movies, go to the gym, everything. A lot of us just go through the motions. We all kind of take for granted some of the things that we have.


Casimir Klim

Dr. Casimir Klim

Graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in May

Will be doing his residency at the Mayo Clinic

Age: 33

Current situation: I’m living with my wife in our apartment in St. Paul. I’m also renting a little studio apartment in Rochester where the Mayo Clinic is so that I can be there during weird hours and also if I end up being in a self-quarantined situation. It’s a 90-minute drive. I’ll start working in the hospital the first Monday in July. It’s kind of a tradition All the new interns start on July 1st historically. A good time to stay out of the hospital if possible! (Laughs.)

His graduation: It was on May 15th. For me, ceremonies have always been more about family, for their benefit. I’m not a huge fan of the pomp and circumstance. In this case, it was kind of nice, I could email my mom the link. My wife watched a little bit of it. She was working, but she had it on her phone for a minute. It would have been nice to be there to see my friends and see everyone, but because it was virtual, it took off a little bit of the pressure to be there. I sort of clicked through some of the highlights, but I haven’t watched the whole video yet.

Missing Match Day. It’s sort of an antiquated, but sort of cool part of the medical profession. It’s a bizarre thing where everyone opens up an envelope and you find out where you’re going to spend the next several years of your life. And some people end up going to some amazing hospital system, and they’re super happy. Other people end up somewhere they didn’t like, or somewhere across the country from their spouse. It’s a mishmash of emotions. Everyone’s there, everyone’s dressed up, their families are there. It sounds like total chaos but at the same time, I wouldn’t have missed it. I think it would have been pretty great to have everyone in a room, meet their families, find out where they’re going.

Not being able to say goodbye to his classmates: The ceremony stuff is not a huge deal to me, But medical training after the first year is pretty fragmented. It depends which rotations you’re doing, or what specialty you’re pursuing. Especially in a big medical school class like Michigan—there are 170 of us. So having everyone together and reconnecting, and finding out what they’ve been doing these last few years--it was sad not to get to do that.

The professional impact of the pandemic: It was interesting for our class, because we had already ranked all of our choices and decided on what specialty we were going into. I’m going into psychiatry. I think our mental health system in this country is already pretty insufficient and overloaded. I’ve been thinking about this huge national trauma that people are going through, both first responders and people who are losing family members. The ripple effects—I can’t even imagine what that’s going to mean for psychiatry.

On possibly treating COVID-19 patients. Psychiatrists are full physicians, so we do an internal medicine rotation our first year, and an emergency medicine rotation, a pediatrics rotation. So that’s treating general patients. That got me wanting to stay up on the more traditional side of my training that I didn’t think I’d necessarily be using. But people of other specialties are getting pulled in to work on the wards if there are big spiking cases somewhere. So that’s been on my mind more than it would have been.


Hetali Lodaya

Hetali Lodaya

Graduated in May from the University of Michigan with a JD from the U-M Law School and an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy

Age: 28

The end of classes: We heard on a Wednesday that the Thursday and Friday of that week were cancelled, to give professors time to develop their online classes. Starting on Monday, we would be moving online. I remember it feeling very surreal, because we were still all there, we were around our friends, and it was this weird thing where you knew things were going to change but they hadn’t yet. It felt like the world was almost holding its breath and you were waiting to see what it was going to be like.

I also remember feeling like March went on forever. March was a very long month. We were constantly learning new things that we didn’t really know—Is it safe to do this? Is it safe to do that?

Departing from school; There was definitely a lot of confusion at the beginning for people who lived in the Lawyers Club. The directives kept changing. So first, it was, you can stay in the Lawyers Club, it’s fine. Then it was, if you’re going to stay, you need to tell us why. And then it was, at some point, if you really don’t have anywhere else you can go, then you can stay, but you should really try to go if you can. Even the way they were serving food in the dining room changed. At first, everything was open. Then at some point, it changed to just being takeout. It was a similar story with my friends. I knew very few people who left right away. But as the weeks went on, more and more people went home. I went home to North Carolina at the beginning of April and I’m still here.

Being at home: My parents are here, my younger brother is here. He actually just graduated undergrad. He didn’t get a graduation ceremony or this, that, and the other thing. I’ve described it to people as [surprisingly] mundane. We’re very lucky that that’s the way it is. We’re at home, we do our work during the day, I’m studying for the bar now, We make dinner, watch “Jeopardy” or play card games at night. Aside from some negotiating and figuring out about how we’re going to do things like get groceries, it feels like—other than watching the news—we’re sort of just kind of doing our own thing.

Wearing a mask outside? Yes, and anytime we think we’re going to come into contact with people. Not necessarily on walks in our neighborhood, where it’s pretty easy to avoid other people. The same when I go out for runs—it’s easy to stay away from other people. But anytime we go to the store, or things like that, we do.

Fellow law students: Everyone is dealing with some kind of uncertainty or another. For some people, it’s “Do I go home or not?” For some people, it’s trying to figure out what bar exam to take. For some people, it’s their jobs—it’s unclear when they’re starting. Are they starting on time? I know some people who had their start dates pushed back so much that they needed to find in-between employment because they couldn’t wait until they were going to get their intended-job paycheck. I know people who have lost their summer internships, but I don’t know anyone personally who has lost their job.

Job: I’m going to be clerking for a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit. I again have that feeling of privilege that being at home is so mundane and routine: I feel so privileged of so much job security in having a federal government job. My start date got confirmed a couple of weeks ago. There’s still some uncertainty--the courthouse is closed right now, so we don’t know when we start work if we’re going to be working remote or that kind of thing. But I think that I’m a lot better off than a lot of my friends.


Morgan Matthews

Morgan Matthews

Graduated on May 17 with a BS in marketing from Western Connecticut State University

Played field hockey as a forward

Age: 22

School after in-person classes ended: I spent most of my time sitting at my desk in front of my computer, doing schoolwork. All my classes were remote. Only one of my four classes used video-chat; my other classes, it was just discussion boards and answering questions occasionally. It was interesting, but I definitely don’t like [remote learning]. I could never do all of my education online. It was challenging at times, especially having group projects. I could only reach out to some people in my group so many times to do something, and not having that fact-to-face talk.

Moving home: I lived on campus, so I had to move back home, and move all of my stuff out of my dorm. I brought as much stuff as I could. We weren’t going to be back until April 6, so I tried to bring home a lot of stuff. I tried to be hopeful, but I brought home a lot more stuff than I would have, probably because I had an insight that we probably wouldn’t be going back.

Living with her parents: The first month and a half were rainy, cold and grey, which really didn’t help at all. Basically, most of the time I did my schoolwork. There wasn’t much else for me to do. Sometimes I really wasn’t bored because I had schoolwork to occupy me, but sometimes it was frustrating. Sometimes I realized it shouldn’t have ended this way; then, I got sad. My dad is a self-employed electrician, so he’s still been going to work. My mom’s working from home. It’s just the three of us here. I only went to the grocery store a few times, just quickly. Now I don’t go to the store that much. We’ve kind of assigned my dad to do that. My mom and I go on walks when the weather’s nice. I’m trying not to feel that we’re locked up in the house, but it’s hard. I haven’t seen anybody but my parents and dog in two months.

Commencement: We had our virtual graduation Sunday, May 17. On September 27, we’re having a commencement recognition ceremony. I’m not sure it’s going to be a typical graduation like it would have been.

How friends have weathered the pandemic: Some good, some bad. Depends on the people. I have friends who don’t live in the northeast and they seem to be better off.

COVID-19: I know a few people that got sick. Family friends, one in her fifties. One thing she said is that her smell and taste were gone, and that it took her a while to get it back, even after she was recovered. Other people that I know in my town have gotten it. There was a girl that I knew from school who had coronavirus. She mentioned that her dad and her mom had it. They were living in separate parts of the house so she wouldn’t get sick.

This summer: There aren’t many plans in place. I’m trying to find a job, but it’s kind of hard. Most of them are online. That takes away the purpose of having an internship or a job. Other than that, it’s up in the air. It’s so weird. It wasn’t how I thought my college career would be ending.

Future plans: I’m going to Sacred Heart in Fairfield, CT, in the fall for grad school. I’ll be getting a Master of Arts in strategic communications and public relations.

Reconsidering career choice? I know that nurses are in high demand in some places. But I cannot handle blood. That definitely wasn’t a career path for me. I’m happy with my choice.


Jared Stern Rogers

Jared Stern Rogers

Nathan Hale High School in Seattle

Will graduate in June

Age: 19

The closing of classes in March: “They told us would just be two weeks. Suddenly, two weeks became a month. And then a month became indefinitely. I thought it was a good thing for the sake of preventing the spread of the pandemic. But the Seattle public schools weren’t really ready to support students immediately. I have many friends whom I’m very close with who get school lunches because they can’t afford it on their own. It was a couple of weeks after we were sent home that the district actually started to send out proper food for the people who rely on them.

“When the first reports of COVID-19 were coming out in America, it was right in our neighborhood. I think people were worried before we went into shutdown. I had to stay late that day to comfort some of my peers who were crying because they have anxiety disorders. For the first couple of weeks, teachers were also caught off guard,

Remote learning: I took it seriously, but it’s a different skillset to study at home. The six-period day at school is extremely structured, and when you’re used to that structure dictating how you get work done, it throws you off to suddenly have it all gone. I studied the best I could, but I was not as efficient as I would be if I were in the school building. And I’m a weird student who likes to stay at school until 5 pm, until I have all of my homework done.

Sheltering in place: There is probably a large percentage of the student body at our school who were still going out and seeing their friends. But I took it pretty seriously. I haven’t really left the house in a couple of weeks at this point. I’m not sure you can say it’s getting better, because cases are still going up. They’re just not going up at the same rate.

Summer plans: It’s strange, certainly, because my family likes to go to the Pacific coast and take a week or two up there to relax. But we can’t do that. So my plans for the summer are to see if I can develop some writing skills, work on finishing my guidebooks for the clubs I’m leaving behind at school, and just find a way to live in our new status quo.

The pandemic experience: It’s a bummer. There are certainly people who can’t handle being inside for long periods of time, but at heart I’m a bookworm. I’m pretty okay with things inside for long periods of time. Of course, I would prefer to go out as much as the next person. But I can handle it. I imagine as we come closer to half a year of being indoors, I will be remarkably worse for wear. But right now, I feel pretty good.

Fall plans: The Class of 2020 is the first class that gets to take advantage of a new Seattle pilot program, guaranteeing anyone who graduates from a public Seattle high school two or three years of free community college. So I will be taking advantage of that before going on to a four-year college. My dream school is Amherst College in Massachusetts. They have a great English program.

Whether the pandemic will change him: It’s hard to tell. One or two years of being stuck indoors is a significant percentage of my life so far. But I hope it won’t be a significant portion of my life overall. I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t change who I think I am. I think I may need to retrain myself for face-to-face interaction. But I hope I can stay true to my passion.”


Allison Russotto

Allison Russotto

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Graduated on May 16 with a BS in journalism

Age: 22

Her Graduation: It was virtual. They recorded each of the commencement speeches. After all of those, you could scroll down to your name and submit a power-point slide with your picture on it, You could write a little caption if you wanted to as well. I think they did it the best they could, with everything that’s happening.

The end of classes: The first few weeks of the second semester, people were talking about the pandemic, but nobody thought it was going to happen. We thought, oh, they’re just warning us that classes might be cancelled, but we didn’t think it was going to happen. When I found out, my first reaction was gosh, I don’t know how I’m going to handle five classes online. That was a big adjustment for me. It was my biggest worry, I guess. Before, I had only taken a summer class online. How were the professors going to handle this? How organized was it going to be? All of that was rushing through my head.

Remote Learning: It’s hard to get people to communicate through the phone and email. Not everybody was responding. I actually didn’t have that many professors who wanted us to “meet” in real time. I only had one class that used Zoom. It was really all discussion boards, turning in assignments. A lot of students didn’t want to use Zoom because you have all be on it at the same time, and a lot of students had gone home. There were a lot of other circumstances. I’d usually be on my computer for four or five hours a day. I think it was just as flustering for the professors as it was to us. It was hard on them as well.

Plans: It’s been a little bit of a rough ride looking for a job. I was torn between going back to Illinois and staying here in Oshkosh or in the surrounding area. In the past month, I’ve received a lot of emails from companies saying that they just aren’t hiring anymore due to the pandemic. Or that they’ve postponed hiring. I was looking for a summer internship to get some more experience. My parents have been very helpful. They’re just letting me come back home and enjoy my summer, and also keep looking for jobs. Hopefully, things will start to open back up. There’s definitely a lack of closure. I don’t really feel like I’m done with school yet.


2 commentaires

30 mai 2020

I loved reading these pieces about these young people. It would be great to know where they are in 5 years and how much the pandemic really affects them in the longer term. What a great group you found!


29 mai 2020

Congratulations again, Andrea. Great theme and stories. Thanks. Joanna

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