Butler seniors prepare to graduate and move on. Collegian file photo.
ALISON MICCOLIS | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Butler graduating class of 2021 could not have predicted this unusual end to their college years. Aside from the cancellation of events such as in-person homecoming and spring break, the senior class was forced to adjust to online classes and was given less opportunities to get together with friends before graduating.
Libbie Rammage, a senior strategic communication and web design and development double major, said everyone has missed out on something this year, but it has been particularly difficult for the senior class.
“When you say missed out on, I mean, the list goes on,” Rammage said. “… there was no homecoming, and I didn’t get any formals. Those are all superficial things, I understand that, but those are the things that make senior year, senior year. So it’s very hard.”
Another challenge for the senior class was finding internships or opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Katie Smith, a senior middle/secondary English education major, is currently student teaching at Mt. Vernon High School in Fortville, IN. She decided to stay at home and commute this year because of the pandemic and her student teaching position.
Smith said the middle/secondary education majors usually student-teach at Pike High School in Indianapolis for six weeks and then at a local middle school for another six weeks. This year, however, it was difficult for students to find open positions because many schools are not allowing outside visitors to minimize COVID-19 exposure. That is why Smith completed all 12 weeks at Mt. Vernon.
“I was very fortunate, I didn’t have to worry about finding a placement last minute, but I heard a lot of teachers were very adamant about not wanting to have student teachers right now,” Smith said. “It was like pulling teeth to get teachers to take student teachers because with everything going on in the world, it was just a lot of extra stress that didn’t need to be put on them and still to this day I feel terrible, but also grateful.”
One senior milestone that will happen this year is commencement. Rammage said she is grateful they are having an in-person ceremony, even if it might look different from what she envisioned her college graduation to look like. She is ready to take the next step into adulthood, but at the same time, she is trying to enjoy her last few weeks of college.
“I think with everything happening pandemic-wise, school-wise and just figuring out your life-wise, it can be a lot,” Rammage said. “So that’s been interesting to try to figure out. I think everybody’s in the same boat and the fact that we didn’t get a break, we’re all still trying to make it and crawl to the end, so it’s really just a lot of emotions.”
While commencement will allow seniors to celebrate the end of their Butler careers, professional journeys can be more uncertain. Senior biochemistry major Elise Wang will be graduating in December 2021. Wang was planning to study for the MCAT this semester and take the test at the end of May. She decided not to study this semester because the pressure of being a college student during a pandemic was hard enough.
“School has just been rough, you know, so it’s just I didn’t need more school and studying on top of already doing school and studying, so I pushed it back which pushed back my application cycle,” Wang said.
Even though the graduating class has missed out on a lot of the traditional senior year celebrations, there have been some silver linings that have led to personal growth. Rammage said the past year has helped her grow in a lot of different ways.
“I had constantly pushed myself to do more and be better and that’s great, that’s what I wanted, but also, I got to this point where I was so tired, I just like mentally could not do it anymore,” Rammage said. “I realized it’s okay to not show up 100% every day. It’s okay to just relax and do what you can in the moment instead of trying to push yourself.”
As she nears the end of her college journey, Wang said her advice to students is to enjoy every moment.
“I think just enjoy the time that you do have on campus and with your friends,” Wang said. “Even though things are kind of tough right now, I think it really does show you how important the relationships you build in college are, so try to embrace those relationships.”
Wang also said not to get discouraged when things do not go as planned.
“Unfortunately, you can have a set time schedule in your mind of what you want to do and the timeframe that you want to do it in, but it might not work out that way sometimes, so just be flexible with what life throws at you,” Wang said.
Rammage is grateful for her time at Butler and how the past four years helped her become the person she is today.
“I mean, Butler truly has changed my life for the better,” Rammage said. “I would not be where I am, and I would not have the people in my life that I have without Butler.”