Last semester, my intramural soccer team lost in the semi-finals of the UB playoffs.
It was a bummer for a team that still never won a championship. We’d come so close so many times over the last seven semesters.
“But at least we had one more opportunity,” we thought. “We still had the spring.”
Turns out we didn’t.
Spring 2020 was cancelled and my time in Amherst came to an unexpected early ending.
Now I’m isolated and disoriented. I don’t know what’s next.
But I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. Both of my jobs continued operating remotely.
Over 30 million people filed for unemployment over the last seven weeks. There are over a million coronavirus cases in the U.S. There are almost 70,000 deaths. Minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the virus. Essential workers still risk their lives going to work. Many are underpaid.
So I’m very lucky compared to how this is affecting others.
But now, graduating, I don’t know what to do next. I decided to defer for a year from graduate school. Since the program is only three semesters long, I didn’t want to risk losing one to remote learning.
Although I’m grateful and excited to start next year, I don’t know how to spend my time until then. Both of my jobs depend on my “student” status at UB and I’ll be out of work after graduation.
I suppose that will make me a “freelance journalist” for a while. But this is a particularly hard time to find a job as a writer. Journalists across the country are being furloughed.
Somehow, I’m optimistic.
Although the economy is in shambles, this is one of the most important times in journalism, when it is most needed. When chaos and uncertainty ensued at UB, The Spectrum’s purpose was more obvious than ever: answer the student body’s questions. Give people information they can use. Tell stories that will help people remember.
I hope I can keep doing this after graduation.
I haven’t really realized that this is the end of UB for me until I started writing this “goodbye” column. Maybe that’s because we usually say goodbye through traditions. With community. Waiting out the days before virtual graduation at home leaves me in a confusing, liminal state. This is the first activity I’ve done to recognize that I’m about to move on.
I remember my last full day on campus was the day Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced we’d be shifting to distance learning: a Wednesday. I stayed late reporting the story in The Spectrum’s office with my peers and friends. But I didn’t completely understand that was the end. It didn’t feel real at the time.
So, I’ll finish with a proper goodbye.
College at UB has, at times, been something I’ve been eager to finish. Something I can’t wait to get over with. As a Buffalo native, I’m excited to explore somewhere new.
Nevertheless, I spent my time here studying the things I’m interested in, that I’ve always been interested in.
I’ve had outstanding professors over the years who’ve inspired me and encouraged me to the point that I’ve gone through phases of wanting to be things like a “logician” and a novelist. Thanks to them for their patience and attention.
Thanks to all the teaching assistants, graduate students and workers that keep the campus functioning.
Thanks to all the friends I’ve made, who I’ll miss dearly.
Thanks to The Spectrum for opening up a world of opportunities to me. I’m grateful for the guidance from my editors.
I know The Spectrum will continue to be a place for kids to enter the journalism world and begin writing for an audience. It is in good hands.
Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian.