Graduation Reggie

As I am entering the last month of my undergraduate career, I have a lot of mixed feelings happening at once. I have so much to say, but I am not sure where to begin.

I am full of excitement for many reasons. After spending four years dedicating myself to my major, I finally get the chance to celebrate everything I accomplished at Illinois State University.

Commencement is something each of us look forward to when we begin our final year. Graduating college is a huge step in our lives and helps us close the door before we move onto the next step.

I was terrified as we entered this semester that an in-person ceremony would be canceled again. For me, I need something more than a video announcing my name and major to help me close the door on this chapter in my life.

When ISU announced that it would be offering a Redbird Stage Crossing, I was happy to have something to help me close this chapter.

But even with all the excitement of graduating, I am having a hard time coming to terms that this is my final month at ISU.

I am sad that I did not get to experience the traditional lasts that many of us look forward to such as Homecoming, Parents and Siblings weekend or sitting in a stuffy Fell Hall classroom with my peers again.

I miss the hustle-and-bustle of the Quad when everyone is walking to class. I miss that first warm and sunny spring day where everyone gathers with friends and packs the Quad — people blasting music, throwing frisbees or playing spike ball.

My normal, in-person undergraduate college experience ended on a random Friday in March 2020. It is something I am still trying to process.

I imagined my last year at ISU completely different than sitting behind a computer screen, apart from my professors and peers.

It is hard imagining that I am about to graduate when I have sat behind a computer screen for the past year. Even though I am grateful I get some type of in-person commencement to close this chapter, it does not feel quite right.

But what really seems to be making it hard for me to come to terms with graduating is the uncertainty surrounding my next steps.

For the most part, I am pretty confident in what I want my next steps to be after graduation, but the uncertainty of not knowing is causing me anxiety because I am unsure if I have to change my plans.

But other than my ongoing anxiety, I am just sad to be closing an important chapter of my life in a pandemic.

The past year is memorable enough as is and will make for a great story years down the road, but I am just sad I did not get the traditional senior year that many of us were looking forward to.

Four years ago, when I stepped through the lobby doors of Watterson Towers, I was so excited for what the next few years had in store. Who would have even imagined a pandemic abruptly ending my normal college experience?

But as I sit in my apartment, reflecting on my time at ISU, I am grateful for all the experiences, friends and memories made along the way.

GRACE KINNICUTT is News Editor for The Vidette. She can be contacted at Follow Kinnicutt on Twitter at @GKinnicutt 

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