To the Class of 2020:
Three years and seven months is the time that we spent at UC Santa Barbara. Three years and seven months ago we moved into our freshman dorms, entering a brand-new chapter of our lives. I remember feeling annoyed that I would be crammed in a room with three others, but now, I would trade my single room for anything. I remember being so nervous to find new friends, but now, I can’t imagine a life without them. I remember feeling anxious about the next four years; now, I feel regret for the three months that were taken away from us.
Three years and seven months ago, no one could have imagined that this would be the end to our undergraduate careers. There was no way to predict that something so fatal would single-handedly put a halt to the regular operations of universities, businesses, travel and countries all around the world.
But over the course of the past week, we watched as COVID-19 slowly ended many of our aspirations and goals. Now, from the confinement of our self-quarantined rooms, all we can do is try to process these changes.
Everyone tells you that the final quarter of your senior year is the most memorable. It’s supposed to be the quarter your class load is lighter (goodbye lower-division courses), you go on more “spontaneous trips” with your best friends (since you saved all that money from your summer internship), you go out for pitchers every Pint Night (since all your friends are now of legal age) and you go to Sands for every single sunset (because when else will you live right by the beach?). It’s supposed to be a time that is filled with promise and contentment.
It’s a time in our lives that we only get to experience once — and now we have been robbed of that experience.
We, the Class of 2020, won’t be attending Coachella, Stagecoach or Lightning in a Bottle. We won’t be going to Davidson Library, Campbell Hall or the Rec Cen anymore. We might not even be walking at our commencement ceremony in front of all our friends and family. All of those promises we held out for until our last year, the bucket list items that we promised our freshman-year selves to complete by the end of senior year, will now go unfulfilled.
Sitting here in self-quarantine, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and reminisce. At first, I was angry: angry at myself, my housemates, the university, the government, you name it. Then I just felt sad. I thought about all the goodbyes I didn’t get to say, all the faces I might not ever see again, all the places I may never get to bike to. But after riding out this rollercoaster of emotions, I think back on my years at UCSB and I am so, so, so happy. There is no other university where I would have wanted to spend my three years and seven months at, no other people that I would have wanted to share my college memories with, and there is simply nowhere like Isla Vista, no other place I would’ve wanted to live in. My college experience showed me how to love myself and others, that work and play can coexist and that strangers can become friends overnight. If it weren’t for UCSB and the people that I met along the way, I wouldn’t be the person who I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.
To the Class of 2021 and the classes to come, take this as an opportunity to reflect on your college experience. Fulfill the promises that you made to yourself sooner than later. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to that stranger in your class you always make eye contact with. Don’t opt for nights in bed instead of nights spent with your friends. Don’t leave your bucket list untouched until the last quarter and, most definitely, do not convince yourself that winter quarter has to be boring. Don’t leave it all until the end because you never know if that opportunity will be taken from you. Life is precious, yet unrelenting, so cherish it always.
To the Class of 2020, I am saddened by the way that our time at UCSB has come to an end, but I am even more saddened by the global pandemic that has taken away people’s lives and livelihoods. This pandemic will go on to affect more than just our college careers; it will affect people for years to come. As a collective group, it is important for us to understand that we have the power to help alleviate this crisis.
Many of us are fortunate that we have UCSB, family and friends as our support systems because many people going through this do not. We are fortunate that we had three years and seven months to build a strong support system that we can lean on during this difficult and hectic time. Let’s use this opportunity to stay aware, educated and informed and to act with compassion, patience and love.
Sending love from my quarantined room to yours,
Class of 2020