Spring Graduation 2019 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, May 4, 2019.
News

Seniors respond to uncertainties in wake of COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 has left many seniors with uncertainties in their last semester at Belmont from graduation being postponed to classes moving online.  

“I think that the hardest part about it was having absolutely no idea that all of this was coming when I left for Spring Break,” said senior Olivia Steiner. “I wish I could go into my classes one more time, look at my professors, and thank them for teaching me and helping me grow.” 

Steiner, like many seniors, is grieving the loss of the remainder of her senior year and all the “lasts” she was unable to experience, she said. 

Additionally, with the decision to cut study abroad and Belmont USA programs short, some seniors were left worrying about not getting a job offer from their internship. 

“I am feeling bummed about the program being cut short, because Belmont West was a big reason why I committed to choosing Belmont when I came in as a freshman,” said said senior Eric Rivera.

“I had worked out my college courses specifically to be in Los Angeles for my final semester.  I know that there are some people from my program that wanted to stay in Los Angeles post-grad and hit the ground running right in May or June.”

For senior Alli Hoffer, the global pandemic has her fearful of being able to enter the job market and cover her expenses, she said.

“I previously worked as a sales associate, but since our stores have closed, I’m out of work. That’s been one of the scariest things about all of this for me. I don’t know when I’m going to have a source of income again, which doesn’t do much to ease my anxieties about post-grad life and being completely financially independent very soon,” she said.

But before seniors can enter the job market, they have to graduate from Belmont. And the virus has had an impact on that, too.

Steiner’s dad agreed to let her study abroad for two summers as long as she graduated a year early. Now, graduating early is making the entire experience much harder for Steiner. 

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask my dad to let me stay one more semester just to get all of those lasts that were taken away from me. I was so looking forward to the events and experiences after Spring Break during my final stretch as a student at Belmont and I was hoping and praying that that time would give me the closure I was craving.”

“Now, with this ending to my undergraduate experience, I feel like less of a senior than ever,” she said.

For Rivera, the decision for Belmont to postpone and not cancel graduation came as a relief after four years of hard work. 

“As a first generation Mexican-American student, the statistics are against me for earning a college degree, let alone from a private university. I am so grateful to the university for postponing the commencement rather than just canceling it all together like some other universities,” said Rivera.

“To me, that was one of the silver linings that came out of the decision for the remainder of the semester to go online,” he said.

“I know that walking across that stage means a lot to my parents and to my family back in Mexico.”

Article written by Tina James. Photo courtesy of Belmont Office of Communications.

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