CASNR senior Haleigh Erramouspe offers her reflections on her final semester at Texas Tech, which was altered for all students by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haleigh Erramouspe will receive a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications at Texas Tech University. Her reflections of her final college semester is the first in a series of senior perspectives, which will appear each Monday and Thursday through the month of May at today.ttu.edu.
Never in a million years would I have thought I would be spending the last three months of my undergraduate career living back home in Corona, New Mexico, waiting out the coronavirus pandemic. Most college students are worried about having to move back home after graduating, but none of us would have thought we would have to finish our college careers away from the Texas Tech University campus.
At the beginning of March, I watched as other universities across the U.S. began to extend their spring breaks and move classes online. It seemed like a dream when Texas Tech made the same dreaded announcement. As we gathered in class for what we now know was the last time, everything was a blur. There were so many questions. When would we get to come back to class? Would we still have graduation? How were we going to move our classes online?
Our professors did their best to answer our questions, preparing us for the worst; we probably were not going to come back to class in the spring semester. The room was full of seniors, and the professors in our department told us how proud they were of us and encouraged us to finish our semester strong. As I looked around the classroom, I saw faces of friends who I had spent the last four years with, and tears spilled over the brim of my eyes as I realized this was probably the last time I would see them in person. We all knew there was going to be a last day of class, a last day of seeing our friends and a last time walking into a university that had become our home, but we just weren't prepared for it to happen right then.
After that day, it seemed like one blow after another. Classes were moved online for the rest of the semester. Graduation was changed to a virtual ceremony. Campus was closed. As Lubbock placed a stay-at-home order on the city, I packed my bags and made my way home to Corona.
As I adjusted to living at home again, I began to see bright spots through the coronavirus clouds. For the first time in four years, I had the chance to spend quality time with my family and see high school friends I hadn't seen since we started college. Through Zoom hangouts, Snapchats and group texts, my friend group from college has stayed connected even though we're currently living in three different states.
As my online classes started, I began to see more bright spots. From my professors sharing determined and enthusiastic messages to their children "Zoom bombing" our classes to tell a joke, each time I left a virtual class I was happier and more motivated than the time before. I was always eager to see messages sent from my classmates and professors sharing our new home offices and how we were staying active while at home.
Even though I am physically farther away from my college home and friends than ever before, I feel closer to many people than I have in a long time. In this unexpected and unprecedented time, my fellow college seniors and I can choose to mourn the things we have lost – our last outings with college friends, our graduation ceremony and saying goodbye to a university that has become a home – or we can choose to relish in the things we have found – quality time spent with family, a chance to reconnect with old friends, and new and innovative ways to solve problems. I'm choosing to look at the bright spots, and I hope you will, too.