Coronavirus shortens college experience for seniors

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has caused K-12 schools and college campuses to close, forcing students to move out prematurely. All courses have been switched to online and almost all schools have made the decision to cancel or postpone May and June graduation and commencement ceremonies.

Virginia Wesleyan made their decision on March 18 to shift all courses to remote instruction and send students home for the semester, although Residence Life approved a certain amount of students to remain on campus.

The email from Academic Affairs read, “The University will continue to offer on-campus housing to current residential students who apply and are granted special permission to reside on campus through the end of the semester.”

All campus events were canceled for the remainder of the spring semester. This included Spring Alumni Weekend, Port Day, the Spring Honors Convocation and all athletic events. The Marlins Day Open House for incoming freshmen was converted to a virtual experience.The Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies that were to be held in May have been postponed to December. 

Academic Affairs informed students they were working with the senior student leadership to announce a specific date for graduation. Taylor Major, the president of the Student Government Association, was on the senior student leadership board. He was able to help make the decision on the specific date for when the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies would be. 

“Yes, my leadership role on campus did allow me to be a part of making that decision. I felt like that date was far enough away to execute graduation in the way the seniors deserve. My reaction when it first happened, I was shook, honestly,” Major said.  Together, the senior leadership and Academic Affairs came up with a solution.

Virginia Wesleyan almost always has a graduation ceremony in December for seniors graduating in the fall semester, which will now be expanded to include every student graduating in 2020. “Another opportunity to be with all the friends that I’ve made along my journey and missing the opportunity to properly say goodbye,” Major said.

Senior class President Danielle Davis was devastated by the sudden shift to remote instruction courses and all student activities being canceled. “Not only do I not have a graduation in May now, but I wasn’t able to spend my last couple months with my close friends that have been with me for my two years at VWU since I transferred from Hampton. We have been waiting for our moment to graduate since 2016, but because of the coronavirus pandemic the whole senior class of 2020 was stripped of what could have been the best time of our lives,” Davis said. “I’m going to miss Virginia Wesleyan and all of the opportunities I’ve had there.”

Makiah Ellis