*Note: This is a first-hand account of being a graduating senior during the pandemic was written by Troy Long, who is graduating this semester with a degree in communication and has been a student worker in the Office of Marketing and Communication at Dalton State.
It has taken me seven years to graduate.
I came to Dalton State after discovering, leaving, and then ultimately rediscovering, my collegiate career should end in the foothills of Northwest Georgia.
When the pandemic shifted from the back of our minds to full cognizance, I was elated to find I would get to spend all my time indoors. Because I am also an autoimmune person, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands.
I planned movie marathons by myself, I found my old retainer when I cleaned my room, and I became comfortable wearing hoodies every day. My luck sprang from dreams of isolation to a reality I had not experienced in the world I had known before, or so I thought.
The movie marathons became monotonous, my retainer doesn't fit anymore, and my hoodies are becoming tighter. But mostly I miss being in the classroom.
Seven years of school is a long time. That's 14 semesters of built up relationships with peers and faculty. That kind of comfort is only apparent when you're away from it, and I miss the luxury of the classroom setting and looking my comrades in the eyes. I miss the sound of pen on paper, lectures and the patterned carpet.
The mindset of being in the classroom functions as a safety net for ideas to fester and grow. When I'm in class, my mind escapes the worries of my day and I'm instantaneously able to focus on that subject and that subject alone. It's a form of meditation for me, and I didn't realizes I needed the structure until I lost it.
My first years of higher learning were wasted on a snarky attitude and a misunderstanding of my role as a student. I wasn't in college to be reminded of the things I already know; I was in college to become well versed in the things I didn't. A lot of those lessons bled into real life.
Our paths are vastly different, but the one thing I'm certain of is that college is meant for growth. Even in my long career of academic papers and presentations, I know I'm walking out of Dalton State with developed understandings of new ideas I would not have learned if I didn't go to college in the first place. I think I'm a better person because of it, too.
As a senior, my college days will end this semester. The abrupt ending of the college experience mixed with uncertainty has made the semester a real rollercoaster. Given my track record though, it absolutely makes sense I would graduate in the middle of a pandemic.
The smallest hint of uncertainty brings negative connotations, but I don't think that does the word justice. If anything, uncertainty is a blank slate where opportunities can rise and fall. I find comfort in the notion I have no idea how anything will happen moving forward just as much as I find it horrifying.
Uncertainty doesn't give answers to questions. We must retain the obscurity of hope, otherwise we will drown in desolation. How good is the map if the end's already known?
I am graduating this semester, and I am proud of that. If I am to celebrate anything, it's I still finished on time. I am indebted to my professors and administration for moving forward to make sure I graduated.
Dalton State has been a second home to me, and I will miss it like an old friend. We will grow from this.
posted 05/07/2020 in Uncategorized
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