COURTESY OF COURTNEY BROGLE/THE OBSERVER
On Friday, March 13, Fordham University officially suspended face-to-face instruction and activities through the end of the spring semester. Just over a week later, the Commencement ceremony for the graduating Class of 2020 was postponed until further notice.
It was the only viable option that the university had to pursue. At the time of the announcements, Mayor Bill de Blasio had declared a state of emergency in New York City (although Gov. Cuomo declared the state was in an emergency situation days prior) and the coronavirus had officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. State and city universities within New York had also moved to online learning for the rest of the semester, so it was realistically a matter of time before Fordham made the same call.
But as I read and reread that initial email, I only could think of one thing: I won’t ever come back to Fordham as a student.
And that broke my heart.
I came to Fordham very unsure of who I was. I was eager to get out of my parents’ house and into New York City, but had little direction about “the big picture” — I was an undeclared communications major already thinking about post-grad employment and how I was going to have to hustle to make something meaningful of myself. And I was terrified.
But I was lucky; I came to Fordham with a high school acquaintance as my roommate. We both struggled during the first semester adjusting to a whole new way of living and growing up. Our high school graduating class was 116 girls. At Fordham, we weren’t the big fish in a little pond anymore.
Much like the autumnal marketing programming claimed we would, we (slowly but surely) fell in love with Fordham. We ate too much mac and cheese while sitting on the floor of our dorm room late at night. We held dance parties with our other roommates to the Spongebob classic “Jellyfish Jam.” We realized our career goals and cheered each other on unconditionally.
We did the dang thing together. We’re just some of the many members of the Class of 2020 who came to Fordham four years ago and made the most of our time on campus. Perhaps that’s why learning that in-person gatherings and our planned May 16 graduation were suspended hurt so much. Whether you readily admit it or shrug it off, Fordham fostered a Ramily that is there for each other no matter what.
I’m not entirely drinking the Kool-Aid; I know Fordham is far from perfect. Classes aren’t always easy (now more than ever with the difficulties of distance learning), the administration can be frustrating beyond belief and the cost of attendance is far from thrilling. But had it not been for Fordham, I would never have met my closest friends, been privy to a host of internships at the place I’ve dreamed of working at since I was 10 years old or been a part of the best student newspaper in the world (in my completely unbiased and professional opinion).
My freshman year roommate, now one of my best friends, is preparing to go to law school in the fall, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. On the other hand, I’m one of hundreds in the senior class looking at potential unemployment as we head into a recession caused by the coronavirus, with some freelance journalism gigs if I’m lucky.
And that’s okay, I think. As much as the thought of living at home post-grad without a job terrifies me, I’m reminded of what my mom taught me from a young age:
No matter what happens in life, no one can take away your education.
Fordham gave me more than a bachelor’s degree. It taught me invaluable life skills, like always keep a window open when trying to make dinner in McMahon. It taught me the best ways to motivate myself and others to work hard and the value of a ridiculously long study break. It taught me that while you can’t choose your family, Rams help you create your second home.
Class of 2020 — the sun will also rise. We’ll graduate and grow up and look back at our days at Fordham, both disappointed that our time as students was cut short, but appreciative of the countless individualized memories we made in the time that we were undergrads.
To quote University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., “Long Live the Dodransbicentennial Class. Long Live the Visionary Class. Long Live the Class of 2020.”
I can’t say I know what the future holds, but I know one thing for sure: I am forever grateful to have been a part of this Ramily.