December of 2019 was my last semester at Sinclair Community College. I received my degree in the mail early March of this year. I spent the beginning of 2020 making plans for graduation weekend. I thought of how I'd find the right dress to wear under my cap and gown, getting my nails done that weekend (even though I am not a girl who is really into those sorts of things), and had a gift certificate already purchased for a massage that I was saving for just this moment. It would be a weekend for me. A weekend to celebrate all that I had worked so hard for, for so many years. All the years of putting school on hold because life got in the way or too complicated had finally come to an end. There was finally an end to that chapter. Then, as we all know, 2020 is the year that the world decided to fall apart. Without hesitation my school cancelled graduation before any lock down orders, self quarantines, or peaking U.S. death tolls.
            A week before graduation I made my bi weekly trip to Walmart for groceries decked out in gloves and a mask. Walking among people dressed the same. A scene out of a Twilight Zone. I came across this plaque for 2020 on a display for graduates that looked sparse. That was due to either 2020 grads buying these things in order to hold on to some small celebratory moment of this graduation season that will never happen or perhaps there wasn't much to begin with for fear that, with all ceremonies cancelled, that it wouldn't sell. I stared at it contemplating if it was worth it to buy until I finally made the decision that there was still something to celebrate. There was still an accomplishment that was made that should be honored.
         Although on May 3rd I didn't get to walk across any stage or get to hear my family and friends cheer for me I still want to hold this moment high. It deserves as such. Perhaps 2020 will make a turn for the better to where I am able to come together with family and friends to mark this moment. I'll look forward to it. For now my graduation weekend will consist of me doing my own mani pedi, baking a cake, and lounged in front of Netflix with some fancy face mask on while I sip from a fruity drink. It is not ideal by any means, but this is how you make due in the chaotic world dealing with a pandemic.
   For all the grads of 2020 whether it be high school, university, grad school, etc do not let the state of the world damper your moment. You made it. We made it. This is one chapter in our story. Did the chapter end how we wanted to go? No, but really good stories hardly ever go the way you want them to. One thing is for sure this will be a graduation we will never forget.

Graduates, I toast to you! 

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