Coronavirus Cancelled My Senior Year of College

AdobeStock/Jose Gil

Westchester Magazine intern Naomi Russel tackles how coronavirus is impacting Westchester’s young adults on the verge of graduating school and entering the workforce.

I’ve dreamt of my college graduation my whole life. The walk across the stage, the hugs from my family, the cute cap and gown photos with my friends. Just a few weeks ago I was getting ready for senior photos and now I’m sitting at home in my pajamas taking classes online. This was supposed to be the quintessential senior year for me and my classmates, but the coronavirus had other plans. After four years at Purchase College, I didn’t want my journey there to be cut so short. I didn’t get to say goodbye to some of my friends and we left with so much uncertainty.

I knew something was up when Hofstra and NYU had closed their doors. Then the dreaded email came: We had until Sunday, March 22 to completely move out. Instead of postponing it, Purchase College decided to cancel commencement.* I know it’s a safety issue, but this was a time I and my friends and family were looking forward to celebrating. I’m not alone in my feelings. Brenda Wodi, a senior economics major at Purchase says, “It’s been so scary and overwhelming. It feels like our life is on hold.” Brenda is right. It’s odd being home earlier than expected; we haven’t yet graduated so the job hunt cannot quite start.

Purchase seniors are not the only ones upset. SUNY Stonybrook health science senior Tatyana Estanislas has this to say: “It’s really distressing because we weren’t told whether we would be moving out, so many of us left our things here. Also, a lot of us didn’t get to formally say goodbye to our friends before being told we would not be allowed on campus.”

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All over social media, seniors are expressing their disappointment, but for some the decision to close schools and business affects their livelihood. Jason Clotter, a jazz studies major, knows this too well. “It’s affecting the music industry in general. Tours are being cancelled from now to July. It’s affecting small jazz venues that the city forced to close. My bass is broken and it sucks because shops are closed and I can’t afford to buy a new strings since all of my gigs are cancelled. The only good thing is that musicians are coming together on Instagram to support each other.”

This is a trying and disappointing time for everyone. I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me and my classmates, but I know we will get through this and celebrate when it’s all over.

Please wash your hands, check up on those you love, and drink your water.


*Betsy Aldredge, Assistant Director of Public Relations at Purchase College, has confirmed, “We are planning on having an in-person commencement ceremony once public health restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.” Students will receive updates with more information as the situation develops.

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