We all know what’s going on right now, and I don’t need to rehash it for you. And with all that’s going on, it sure seems silly to be upset about missing the physical aspects of school.
But it makes sense to be upset, and it’s okay to be. I am, too.
The end of our senior year, whether high school or college, is set up to be an especially meaningful period of time. In the U.S., high school finishes out with senior prom, awards ceremonies, and various culminations of extracurricular endeavors. (That’s a fancy way of saying senior recognition within groups like your basketball team or show choir, etc.) And let’s not forget the graduation ceremony, caps and all.
College is kind of the same thing, but bigger if that seems possible from where you are right now. The final dorm formals (including the much-anticipated Dome Dance), thesis presentations, respective senior recognition events. Having catch-up-and-maybe-goodbye meals with old and new friends alike. Popping champagne bottles amidst summer flowers and lifelong friends for those classic graduation photos.
Due to things out of our control, the celebrations we've expected and had already emotionally invested in are now just…gone.
It’s the little mundane things that I find myself mourning the most. I don’t feel I was given enough time to really appreciate late-night studying in the LaFun east lounge or Sunday night Mass in Alumni Hall. I didn’t know at the time that I was attending my last Chorale rehearsal, my last section meeting, or my last southwest salad Thursday lunch date with my boyfriend Derek, laughing as he went back for a second bowl.
Perhaps most disheartening is the fact that my friends have been scattered back across the globe two months earlier than I expected. It was already going to be hard to transition to entirely new lives in entirely new locations. Now it’s much harder knowing that there’s a chance I may never see any of them again, and I never got to say a proper goodbye—at least at Notre Dame. We’re all hanging on to the promise of a graduation ceremony, but we have no idea what next week will look like in the U.S., much less the end of May.
I know our situations are different. You have every right to mourn the experiences that have been taken from you too.
What I do want you to know is that you have so many great experiences ahead of you in college. So many relationships to develop, so many things to learn, so many memories to make. Notre Dame is one of the best places in the world, and I ask you (nay, implore you) to not take your time there for granted. You will fly through those four years. Everyone tells you this, but that’s because it’s true.
For now, survive the social distancing, do your best in your online classes, and stay home. With cooperation and a bit of luck, we’ll be the only graduating class that gets to say we got our diplomas in the middle of a quarantine.
And everything will be okay.
We are strong. We are resilient.
Notre Dame can’t wait for you to arrive.
Lisa von Werder
Class of 2020