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Hear from the class of 2020 on how they are getting through their graduation season

The act of graduating is monumental. No matter how long it takes for an individual to obtain a degree or even your grade point average, completing an education is an accomplishment.

This season, schools across the country have postponed or canceled their graduation ceremonies to practice safety measures. Although students are unable to celebrate in person, we talked to a few students from the class of 2020 to hear from them personally.

University graduate Claire Neville | Courtesy of Claire Neville

I virtually connected with our spring intern, Claire Neville, who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, receiving a degree in Digital Arts and Culture, as well as Advertising and Public Relations. Below is the transcribed interview.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a ceremony and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is extending it to October. How are you feeling about that?

I’ve known ever since elementary school that I’m going to high school, going to graduate college but I didn’t realize I wanted to (walk across the stage) until we were told it wasn’t going to be a possibility. Now it’s moved to October. I feel it’s going to be so far removed. I’ve heard this from so many of our friends as well. It’s never going to be the same. 

Yeah, it’s not even just about walking down the stage. During your last months, you’re on campus, hanging out with friends and savoring those memories. I did want to go on the plus side, are you doing anything with family or friends?

I got a care package from my mom yesterday because I am staying in Milwaukee. She sent a makeshift graduation party with a sign that said, “Congrats Grad,” and champagne glasses and confetti.

That’s super cute, I love that! I know people hate this question, “You’re graduating, what’s next?," but is there any excitement or fear? What’s the main emotion when entering this new chapter of adulthood?

 I don’t even know if fear is the right word, it’s a lot of uncertainty. I know in the end it will end up fine. It’s an interesting time to be looking for a job and it’s like all the stress of graduating with 10 times more pressure.

In general, what is something that you are looking forward to? 

I am forward to the summer in Milwaukee. Summer in Milwaukee is my favorite thing but this summer will look different, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad one. 

It wouldn't be a representation of the class of 2020 if we didn't consider the high school graduating class. High school is a tremendous time and senior year is the closing chapter separating someone from adolescence to adulthood.

Our media culture emphasis on an individual "coming-of-age" story. What happens when that part of your life never happens? When you don’t get go to prom, plan a senior skip day, write “see ya later," in everyone’s yearbook page and walk through those school hallways one last time?

I spoke with high school seniors Elizabeth Bocksenbaum and Huda Saqib to get their perspective. Bocksenbaum said when they have first been informed the rest of the school year would be online, she still had a glimmer of hope, once the realization hit, Bocksenbaum was overwhelmed.

"I was the lead in my school play and that got completely shut down," said Bocksenbaum. "Athletes all throughout four years of high school have been looking forward to never got to play their final season."

Although it may seem like the world is on pause, Saqib said she's trying to make the best of the situation, focusing her attention on attending university.

Saqib will be attending University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee next fall while Bocksenbaum opted on the out of-state route by enrolling in Butler University in Indiana. In Saqib's case, she the first individual in her immediate family to graduate high school.

"My mom's first daughter is graduating so she's a bit sad," said Saqib. "It's not the same but I know my immediate family will celebrate with me."

Both Bocksenbaum said that being in transitional age and dealing with a global pandemic gave them insight into the world they are entering. 

“Newscasters, politicians and people always mention the youth and how we are thing big movement that always pushes forward these new ideas,” said Bocksenbaum. “In that sense, I am very excited because we’re loud, we’re active and we’re angry. We are ready for change.”   

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee