OPINION: Senior shares hopes for graduation, beyond

In spite of difficulties with virtual school year, seniors prevailed, made best of it

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LAUREN PETTIT

“I am looking forward to having the virtual commencement, I know it is virtual and will not be the same as it would be in person, but I’m still looking forward to that and the other commencement activities.”

GRACE LAPIERRE, Evergreen columnist

To all those graduating this spring: congratulations. It has been a long semester, although they all feel long to me. This recent year posed unique challenges with distance learning, but here we are. A little bit of time left to withstand, and then we’ve made it.

Those of you who are graduating: good luck. I have until December to figure out what’s next for me; a summer and one more semester before I am thrust into the real world. Academia feels like a strange half-dream half-nightmare.

If only I got paid to do research papers and read books, rather than paying for it. I would stay forever if taking classes could be a sustainable job for me. Most people I know, however, are itching to get out of college.

Patrick Robichaud, senior civil engineering major, said he is graduating this May.

“I am looking forward to having the virtual commencement, I know it is virtual and will not be the same as it would be in person, but I’m still looking forward to that and the other commencement activities,” Robichaud said.

As part of the Honors College, Robichaud is able to participate in the Honors-specific events. He said he appreciates the effort everyone has put into helping him reach this important milestone.

Graduating during the pandemic is something Robichaud does not mind much, although he understands it is very disappointing for some people. He has been impacted by Zoom learning, and he said it detracted from his education substantially.

“I still feel like I’ve made the best use I can of my virtual time,” Robichaud said.

As Robichaud dedicated five years to his degree in civil engineering, he is excited to graduate, but it is nonetheless bittersweet. He said he really enjoyed his time at WSU and will miss being part of the Honors community and the engineering community.

It would be wonderful if everyone could say the same thing. A friend of mine recently complained to me about their intense desperation to graduate, stemming from a degree of loathing toward their university experience.

I am somewhat jealous of Robichaud’s clear plan after graduation. He said he will be completing a virtual internship looking at the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada.

Robichaud will also be working for the National Youth Science Camp, which he has been involved with for many years now.

For me, I have some programs I plan to apply to before my own graduation but nothing quite like Robichaud.

Among his most memorable experiences, Robichaud said he remembers the trip to Panama he did for Engineers Without Borders. He helped build a water system in a remote village. He has also done two separate research projects.

Robichaud said it is a little sad that graduation will be virtual. He wishes WSU could do more, but he understands the limitations caused by COVID-19. He said he is happy the university is doing the best it can given the situation.

While some of my soon-to-be graduating classmates have been painting their caps despite the online graduation, Robichaud said he never emphasized graduation quite as much as his parents. He said he would only consider painting his cap if graduation was in person.

I feel similarly. For my high school graduation, I cannot remember if we were allowed to decorate our caps or not. I just know I didn’t. I didn’t even want to go. Over five hundred students, outside in the humid summer heat of New York? No thanks.

There was a mouse in the stands of the amphitheater too, so people freaked out.

Regardless of how our current graduating senior class feels about graduation being online, at least they can sit somewhere comfortable for it. Graduating online might be a little disappointing, but it is no reason not to be proud.

Seniors, you were hit by a pandemic. The transition to online learning was kind of rough. Social distancing can be pretty miserable, as necessary as it might be. But you did it, you graduated. Congratulations.