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Seniors reflect on strange end to Drake experience

Photo by Charleigh Reinardy | Staff Photographer

As many students have planned out their college career and prepared for their graduation, the class of 2021 has had to manage the changes and challenges of being a student during COVID-19. 

With another class about to graduate during the pandemic, many students have reflected on their time at Drake and how their college experience has been unusual to say the least. 

Genesis Buckhalton, a senior at Drake, said her college career has changed a lot due to COVID-19. She believes her college experience has been more “boring and lackluster” since the pandemic began.

“WIthout being able to see most of my friends face-to-face and not being able to go to any in-person events, I haven’t had anything exciting to look forward to in my life,” Buckhalton said.

Like Buckhalton, many other seniors have been feeling burnt out with how little in-person events have been able to happen this year.

Jared Allread, a senior at Drake, said the thing he saw most his senior year was burnout due to “a lack of breaks and classes not adapting to account for the mental stress placed on students.” 

“When the pandemic started, college went from being the most important thing in day-to-day life to being secondary to a global pandemic,” Allread said. 

Allread said his experience definitely changed because he was trying to work abroad after graduation, but has struggled to get through the process of applying and being able to travel. 

Leah Wilson, a senior at Drake, said she is incredibly grateful for her family, friends and her health, but still misses the true college experience and has been stressed with preparing to graduate.

This has become a major struggle for Wilson and many graduating students because of how job opportunities have become more competitive and have decreased chances for less experienced workers.

Wilson also said she has struggled for the past year and a half with staying engaged on campus and in organizations because of the virtual environment.

“I spend almost no time on campus due to the majority of my classes being virtual, and I have not been able to interact with the Drake community very much,” Wilson said. “It is much harder to form relationships in a Zoom classroom.” 

Kate Kelly, a senior at Drake, said she has also been less connected with many aspects of college because of everything being virtual for a major part of her college career. 

While her experience has changed, she said she still reflects on her many memories before the pandemic and hopes the future graduating class understands how important it is to be involved at Drake. 

“College is what you make of it. You get out what you put in,” Kelly said. “Getting involved, being a leader and getting out of my comfort zone are reasons why I’ve loved college so much.”

The undergraduate commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday May 15 in the Drake Stadium. Each graduate will be allowed four guests who must pre-register as well as follow social distancing guidelines and other COVID protocols. For more information, visit drake.edu/registrar.

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