Temple University students returned from spring break on March 8 to rumors of campus closing down due to COVID-19 and social distancing measures.
“I honestly didn’t think it would be that big of a deal,” said Jenny Rakshit, a senior public health major. “I thought that yeah, probably we’d go online, but everything would clear up by like April or early before graduation and stuff.”
On March 11, Temple announced it would suspend all in-person classes for the remainder of the semester due to the outbreak. The May commencement ceremony was later postponed and all university events will be canceled through May 31, The Temple News reported.
Niara Wilcox, a senior media studies and production major, said the commencement ceremony is important to her.
“I would love to be with family and to walk across the stage,” Wilcox said, “I’m not going to grad school so I only have one college graduation.”
Across the country, many universities and colleges’ 2020 commencement ceremonies have been postponed, canceled or moved to be held virtually. At least 80 institutions ceremonies have been affected, Forbes reported.
The outbreak has also made students uncertain about their plans after graduation.
Camille Hernandez, a senior film and media arts major, was planning to walk early for commencement, and study in Los Angeles through the Theater, Film and Media Arts Department in Fall 2020 to wrap up her college career.
“If I were to do the program, I would just completely stay in [Los Angeles],” Hernandez said. “But now I don’t know what the hell is happening with this pandemic being so freakin’ wild, you know?”
As a student studying film, Hernandez believes the time during the COVID-19 outbreak will influence content creation in the future.
“You’re going to see a lot of television content about different points of view of what is happening right now in this moment in time because this is a historic moment that none of us are going to forget,” she said.
As a public health major, Rakshit was planning on having an internship in the summer but feels the fate of it is unsure now. On the other hand, she’s looking forward to finding a job after graduation but fears the unstable economy, she said.
Wilcox feels uncertain about what the job market will look like when she graduates, she said.
“I’m definitely very nervous about it because I’m seeing stories of people already being laid off and I don’t think anybody’s gonna be hiring,” she said.
Kate Freni, a senior gender studies and English major, is among several Americans who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. More than six million Americans filed for unemployment between March 21-28, according to the United States Department of Labor.
Since the university’s closure, Freni has been home with her daughter, whose preschool is temporarily closed, and has been facing pressure balancing online classes and caring for her child.
“With classes being online, on top of the fact that I have homework and assignments due, it is a struggle to get anything done,” Freni said.
Wilcox also struggles with staying focused while staying at home with her family. She commuted to Temple but currently spends all day in her home in New Jersey.
“Now everybody’s home, everybody’s trying to get a new rhythm, there’s a lot more distractions around,” Wilcox said.
Rakshit struggles with some of her online classes and is disappointed that this is happening during her senior year, she said.
“I didn’t know it was gonna affect me as much when it first came out but seeing like, graduation get affected and how I’m learning now, it’s all online,” Rakshit added. “The whole shift is making me really sad just to see it this way. I never thought of my senior year as this.”