A Letter to the Class of 2020

By: Rocky Walder

Hey Seniors,

I know we all have a million thoughts running through our heads right now so I wanted to try to sum a few of them up. Myself and so many others are completely heartbroken over the turn of events that have taken place during this final semester. What we once saw as a faraway problem has now consumed our daily lives and affects us all in one way or another. Because of this, our final memories at USC are now suddenly stripped away from us. There are no senior graduation photos, last 90 Wednesdays, engaging discussions about our senior thesis reports, late nights with friends, spring break and weekend trips, and no commencement in May. We have finished up our final classes online, a task that was nearly impossible for many majors, especially those in the arts, and have done our best to keep our grades and our spirits up. All of our hard work from the past four years in suddenly coming to a halt with no chance for us to say goodbye to the people and places that have helped shape us so deeply. They say college is the best four years of your life, and though I do not believe that entirely, I do know that these four years have been crucial in shaping us into who we are and who we will become.

Personally, I lost my father in a car accident, had my heart broken, had my first real jobs, learned about the importance of mental and physical health, and chose the people who I wanted to walk with me through these challenges. For the first time, I faced many adult-like problems and decisions and learned about what it means to be independent in this ever-changing time. Though my experiences were unique in some ways, many of the feelings I had and problems I tackled were faced by others in different scenarios. My friends, acquaintances, and the other young adults around me dealt with grief, sexual assault, being hired or fired, finding their first apartment, breakups, first love, health battles, and much more. We all learned about life and grew up in one way or another. The past four years are about much more than just the classes we took and the completion of our course work. What makes this experience with COVID-19 so challenging, is the lack of closure. We do not get to throw our caps in the air and say to ourselves “I did it.” There is no longer a transition into the next chapter, but rather a pressure to figure out what comes next and jump in.

In addition to the sadness of this abrupt ending, many of us are still without jobs. We will begin entry-level jobs at the start of a recession and are worried about what this next chapter is going to look like. A person’s 20s are filled with new adventures and challenges, but we are now facing what is completely unknown to the entire world.

It’s disheartening and scary and on top of it all, there is the reality that many of us are the privileged ones in this entire situation. People are losing their lives, unable to afford food, unable to pay rent, and separated from loved ones. It feels selfish to be upset about such trivial things such as missing out on final senior year moments when the entire world is in crisis. So what can we do about this? How can we acknowledge what we are feeling while at the same time supporting those who need help? How can we turn this whole situation around and try to see the good and be the light to a chaotic world around us?

We are positive and we are resilient. Though this is not what we would have wanted and in a way it still doesn’t feel real, it will make us stronger. If I have learned anything during my time at USC, it is that we can do whatever it is that we put our minds to. It sounds cheesy but it is true. USC is work hard, play hard type of environment and I have seen my peers grow and pursue their unique dreams time and time again over the past few years. We are innovative, brave, intelligent go-getters and I have absolutely loved watching all of those around me chase after their passions and evolve over the course of our academic careers. We are no longer the scared-freshmen who are trying to navigate social scenes, find our first internships or struggling to make it to class on time in a building we’ve never been to before. We’ve grown up.