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Austin Winslow: Going the 'distance' senior year

July 7, 2020

Austin Winslow is a senior double majoring in journalism and criminal justice in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the College of Social Science. He is an intern with University Communications and hopes to one day study law and be part of the next movement for change.

The upcoming school year will be a unique one for me and the rest of the class of ‘21. There's usually so much to look forward to for seniors. Going to tailgates and basketball games – one last season sitting in the Izzone... Heck, even getting a chance to finally go to Rama (although, I’ve been lucky enough to attend even before the pandemic).

To say this fall will be an adjustment is an understatement. Yes, we had a glimpse of what it would be like last spring, but it was nothing compared to what the fall will bring us. Many classes are likely to be fully online. 

What makes senior year so special is that you try to make every last moment count with the people around you. And honestly, the social scene is a huge part of what makes college…well, college. It’s the one time in our lives when hanging out with friends more than anyone else in our lives is the norm and sleeping past noon is perfectly acceptable.

Of course, that's all different now. Why? Look what happened recently at Harper’s.

While we may be young, we aren’t invincible. Plus, this sort of reckless behavior can truly put loved ones in danger without even realizing it. We, as the next generation of adults and leaders, have a social responsibility to adhere to.

We don’t have the luxury of doing things like we used to do. Wearing masks around campus will be required whether we like it or not. We may as well try to embrace it — even get a little fashionable and buy a mask with some style. This shouldn’t change how we connect as people. And, while it isn’t the most ideal situation, it is what it is, and we must adjust.

To dwell on what's missed is pointless. What’s important now is to maintain some perspective. Everyone lost something. For some students, study abroad trips were cut short or canceled all together. Weddings postponed. Birthdays celebrated differently. Trips across the world canceled. And, guaranteed, we all know someone who is grieving because they lost someone they loved during this time. I know I was. I attended a funeral that was supposed to be filled with plenty of friends and family to be able to mourn together. But, we were lucky enough to have maybe 10 people there with us.

While this isn’t the senior year (or freshman year, or any year for that matter) that we imagined, I plan to (safely) make the best of this situation. I will never be a college senior again and, while this isn’t how I expected my final year to go, I’m going to make the best of the situation.

Sure, socializing will be different. We may not be spending time packed into Breslin or elsewhere, but we can create new ways of making the year memorable...from a distance. We can still watch games at restaurants — we just might not have people to our left and right to high five. Maybe we aren't hugging after a big win. To be honest, I've become a huge fan of bumping elbows.

Nothing in life lasts forever. Let's all do our part to make sure we are all healthy and well to enjoy whatever comes next.