April 29, 2020
If you had asked me what I expected when I first turned the key in the door of that tiny corner room in Campbell Hall that very first time, I’m not sure what I would have said. What I am certain, is that no matter what answer I would have given, it wouldn’t have been close to the way my college career actually played out.
I’m sure I would have answered that I expected to finish my bachelor’s degree in psychology and attend my commencement ceremony with all my friends four years later at the Breslin Center. I might have said I expected to get good grades, learn a lot and have fun. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have said that I was going to get mainly excellent grades but fail my math class that first semester. But that’s what happened.
I know for absolute certainty I never would have said that I would finish my first year, get married, move to a military base in South Dakota, take part-time classes in a trailer from Black Hills State University while waiting tables, move back to East Lansing, work for a U.S. senator, finish my degree at MSU and participate in my commencement ceremonies eight years after high school while seven months pregnant. Not at all what I expected, I’m sure. Yet, that’s pretty much how it went.
I also know for absolute certainty that not one single member of the Spartan class of 2020 expected their senior year (or graduate or professional program year) to end this way. No one expected to be sent home from campus in March or to finish their classes online. No one expected to have to celebrate their accomplishments at home, privately, with just a few loved ones. No Breslin Center this weekend, no massive cap throwing, no hugging your friends. None of this was expected.
In the grand scheme of things, missing a live celebration isn’t as sad as the horrible deaths that have happened around the world because of COVID-19. But that still doesn’t mean that it’s not sad and it doesn’t hurt. Hurt and sadness come in all levels of severity. I see you, graduates. I feel your pain and disappointment. I send you a virtual hug.
I also send you a virtual high-five because I am incredibly proud of you. You have persevered in the strangest and most challenging times. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. First of all, we all want to celebrate with you. Which is why the university will hold a virtual commencement on May 16. You are all invited — RSVP now on the scheduled Facebook event. Let’s show these awesome students just how proud we are. Individual colleges are also scheduling special activities so make sure to check those out too.
One more way we want to applaud with you is to offer you this incredible, star-studded Spartan video celebrating your achievement. Watch it in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Celebrating the Spartan class of 2020, but have some tissue nearby. You might find yourself with something in your eye. It’s really a beautiful testament to what it’s like to be part of the Spartan family. (Huge shout-out to my massively talented colleagues, Anthony and Ellen, who made this happen.)
One student who will be graduating on May 16 is Caroline Caramagno, who majored in professional and public writing in the College of Arts and Letters. She says, “I never thought I’d be in a position where my time at MSU would get cut short. I never thought I’d have to leave the place I’ve lived for the past three years without getting to really say goodbye.” Check out her STUDENT VIEW: A virtual thanks and farewell, to read more from this outstanding Spartan.
Speaking of outstanding Spartans, it’s worth resurfacing the STUDENT VIEW: An unprecedented goodbye, written by our student intern, Jocelyn Tucker, right after students were sent home. She did a lovely job of writing about what so many of her classmates must also be feeling.
None of this is what any of us expected. But, in the words once sung by John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” To be sure, this is one pretty big change of plans for all of us. But we’re Spartans. We adjust, we pivot, we figure things out. And if life is not what we expect, we take a deep breath and deal with what we’re handed with grace and determination. And we always cheer each other on. Congrats, Spartans. We’re all with you. #SpartansWill.
Photo by @lindsey_anderson89 via Instagram. Congrats, Lindsey!