Three seniors offer their perspectives on transitioning to online classes

Spring senior Hannah Spagnoletti, who will graduate from Baylor with a degree in Marketing, poses for her senior pictures on Baylor's campus. However, the commencement ceremony has since been postponed to August. Brittney Matthews | Multimedia Editor

By Claire Van Zee | Reporter

From missing out on May graduation to their last Dia Del Oso, this year’s seniors are feeling the weight of their last semester being cut short.

While talking with a few current seniors, it’s no surprise that COVID-19 has thrown a curve ball into what they had envisioned their last few months in Waco would look like.

When asked what they would miss most about their last semester at Baylor, all three seniors interviewed gave the same answer — graduation.

Longmont, Colo., senior Emily Atwood said as a first generation student, she and her family were especially looking forward to graduation.

“It’s a huge deal that I’m graduating college, and now there’s a possibility that my family will not even get to see me walk across the stage and that’s upsetting,” Atwood said.

Irvine, Calif., senior Eileen Lee said the postponement of graduation in May is one of the bigger bummers in her book.

“Not to sound sappy, but everyone dreams about graduating college and walking the stage, so it was really upsetting when we found out that it’s being pushed back to August,” Lee said.

Paris, Tenn., senior Ian Smith said he is also disheartened by the situation.

“Whereas every other graduate in history has gotten the chance to walk across the stage at commencement, it’s saddening to think that the big culmination of my college experience is going to be when I finish my last final,” Smith said.

While he’s disappointed that he won’t get to experience the big bang of graduation, he is excited to have the chance to come back for commencement in August.

However, that’s not the case for all seniors. For many, plans have already been made to move across the country, start new jobs and officially enter the new chapter of their lives as college grads. Coming back to Waco in August wasn’t exactly in their plan.

Atwood said she was supposed to be going on a medical mission trip to Kenya for the summer. She’s found that now that the borders are closed, it’s possible that her trip will be postponed, meaning she wouldn’t be able to come back to Waco in August.

Lee, who is hoping to get a job and move to Washington D.C. in the fall, isn’t sure if asking for time off for graduation in August would be the best decision she could make as a new hire.

All three seniors have chosen to stay in Waco rather than to return to their homes dispersed throughout the country. While the semester they had envisioned was cut short, at least they can confine themselves to their Waco homes with their Baylor friends as long as possible.

“These are the final few months that I have with friends and the community that I have built here at Baylor. It’s my last chance to have everybody gathered in one place, and I think that is the sentiment that a lot of the seniors are sharing,” Smith said.

Both Atwood and Lee also chose to stay in Waco for similar reasons. After finding out that the remainder of the semester would be online, Lee said she was very disappointed.

“My college experience just isn’t the same anymore,” Lee said.

However, Lee did find that choosing to stay in Waco helped her to make the most of her last semester with her friends.

“Just being in Waco definitely makes things better and more normal,” Lee said.