By Krizelle Solidum

Every college student’s world was turned upside down when COVID-19 struck. Many, like myself, are left wondering what’s next and how to plan for the future.

I am currently a senior journalism and public communications major at the University of Alaska Anchorage, going into my sixth year of college. Fall commencement was set to be my biggest day thus far, but like others who recently graduated, there’s the reality there may not be a commencement exercise.

Now, with the uncertainty brought by the virus and the question of when the second wave may hit, the university is still deciding which classes will be offered in-person or online when the fall semester starts in late August.

There’s a domino effect with many other aspects of my life, based off of this one pending decision. The schedule will be announced in mid-June, according to UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. This means that students cannot plan for their future as they don’t know the delivery method of their courses.

I understand the university must take its time to make decisions, but it is frustrating. More than for myself, many students live out of state and have to coordinate a place to live and when to come back.

More so, higher-risk students are worried about safety measures the university will implement. As much as I would love to see my professors and peers in person, I’m just not comfortable, even if it’s a large classroom, being on campus.

A positive to classes being moved online is that I may be able to move to Colorado and secure a job in the field of journalism sooner than expected.

However, anxiety hits when I question if I can even land a job during this time. I begin to wonder if my peers and I are entering the workforce at the worst possible moment. This fear was validated when all the internships that I applied for this summer were terminated due to COVID-19.

This made it difficult for many students to find other means to get experience. Luckily, through one of my professors, Larry Persily, I was able to land an internship with The Skagway News.

Internships are such an important and beneficial process for students. It helps them gain experience, build connections and give a taste of what the work environment is like. If I didn’t get this internship, it would have prolonged my graduation by another semester.

Commencement is the day every college student strives to reach. The day was important to me, but most of all it was a celebration for my mom. 

Growing up, I was raised by a single mother. All she ever asked of me was to graduate college. The hard work that I put into finishing university reflects all the sacrifices she made for me. My heart goes out to all the other first-generation college graduates who will have to find alternative ways to celebrate.

Although the thought of not being able to walk down the green carpet, cross the stage and be handed my diploma is disheartening, I have to remind myself how lucky I am.

There are many people who are not fortunate enough to obtain a higher education. Even though my last year of college didn’t turn out the way I planned, I was still blessed to have the experience.