May 24, 2015, was a day that I will never forget. This was the day I graduated from Chapman University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. If I close my eyes and think back to the week leading up to graduation, I can see orange and red sunsets from the roof of our house off Sycamore and Harwood, my feet in the campus fountains during late night hangouts reminiscing about the past four years, and my final undie run… haha.
I had an amazing four years at Chapman and I couldn’t wait to walk across that stage to receive my ‘fake’ diploma (they don’t actually give you the real piece of paper until weeks later). This was the moment where all my hard work would finally pay off. I remember seeing one of my professors on stage after being handed my diploma, and I was so excited that I ran up to him to give him a big hug and, in the process, I knocked off his ceremony cap. So embarrassing!
It truly was the best of times!
Now it’s 2020, and boy does my heart break for this year’s graduating class. If there’s one life lesson that I wished I’d learned in college, it would be to look for the silver linings in not-so-ideal situations. Although it’s been five years since I’ve graduated and I am a bit far removed from this class, I can’t help but feel like I should do something to help brighten up the current situation. (Read all the way to the end to see our surprise for this year’s graduating class.)
To get some insight into how the class of 2020 is coping, I interviewed graduating senior, Marshall Scott. You all know him because he was one of our IHOTO interns, and you’ve probably seen him around the Circle snapping photos for our Instagram feed.
Give me a little background information about yourself. What is your major/minor? Any extracurricular activities?
I am a public relations and advertising major, television Minor. At Chapman, I was a resident advisor for first year and continuing students for three years, on the National Student Advertising Competition for two years, and in ChapTones a cappella for four years. Throughout my time at Chapman, I also had various jobs, freelance and non, and internships in marketing, video production, audio production, and social media.
How did Chapman break the news of sending students home for the semester?
Because of my RA position, I had some insight about what might be happening to students a few hours early. However, all communication from Chapman came through email. There was an email every couple hours for the first two to three-3 days, it felt like. The communication was really great by Chapman and it just felt like a waiting game.
What were your initial feelings?
I knew that everyone was going through the same thing and that brought me some ease of mind. It was sad to see all of my final performances and senior events get cancelled right before my eyes, but I knew that everyone was going to be hurting and as the class of 2020, we would all be in this together.
How do you feel now that we’ve been in quarantine for almost two months?
It feels weird. There is a part of me that still feels like we are going to go back to how things were, I will be back at Chapman, and life will move on. But that is a privileged daydream and not the reality right now. I now feel lucky because the quarantine has put life into perspective. It has made me realize what is important in life: family, friends, and the simpler joys. I feel lucky to have my health, when so many others do not, and feel lucky to have a healthy family, when so many do not. I can’t go through quarantine being upset knowing the tragedies that are happening around the country and world, and am looking for ways to stay busy and productive while staying safe.
How are you trying to stay positive?
I am doing a lot of working out, trying new vegan recipes, and making YouTube videos. Editing videos for my channel is like therapy to me and can take my mind off of the crazy world for a few hours. I am FaceTiming friends that I miss and focusing on applying to jobs. The job hunt is really tough right now, but I am trying to stay persistent and optimistic about it.
What are your biggest concerns?
My concerns are about the state of our planet. I want good to come out of this in some way. If we can reduce traffic, pollution, meat consumption, or CO2 emissions, those are silver linings that I hope we take away from this way of living. There are more sustainable ways to live on this planet, and it is horrible what is happening to people all over the country, but maybe this will show us what it is going to take to save the planet!
How has Chapman been communicating with the graduating class?
We have gotten commencement update emails and even got to fill out a survey that allowed us to share what our ideal graduation would look like. For me, I want graduation to be the safest for everyone, so if that is this fall or in 2021, I just hope it can happen safely so we can celebrate the class of 2020.
What message do you want to send to your fellow seniors?
Use this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and others. We will forever be the graduating class that COVID-19 began during. Take what we learned in college and our personal lives to help someone else, make art, or start to put your dream into action. Although it may not be the ending of college we imagined, it’s the ending we get and that is our story to claim. Happy graduation, class of 2020!
Kudos to Marshall for seeing the positive throughout all the chaos that’s been going on. And now for my own message to the graduating class…
CONGRATULATIONS! I can’t say it enough. I know this is a difficult time but don’t let current events take away from the importance of your accomplishments. Everything happens for a reason and there’s always a silver lining, even if that reason isn’t clear right away. Keep your head up and know that your #ChapmanFamily is ALWAYS here for you. #PanthersForLife