On March 18, 2020, exactly four years after most seniors received their acceptance letters to Hopkins, we received an email detailing the University’s tough decision to suspend all in-person classes for the rest of the semester.
At the same time, we learned that our graduation ceremony would no longer be held at Royal Farms Arena with our family and friends cheering us on. Graduation will now be online. We won’t be able to toast together as a senior class, move our tassel, take photos on the symbolic Hopkins sign with our friends, have our family travel from around the world to celebrate, see the proud faces of our loved ones or hug our friends goodbye.
We are heartbroken. We had our last full day on campus without even realizing it during that day. We went to class, ate lunch with friends, went to meetings, worked our jobs, studied, just like we would have on a normal day. By the end of the day, we were packing our bags to leave Hopkins, unaware of whether we’d return to finish our senior year. We soon found out that we wouldn’t get the opportunity to say our proper goodbyes to everything we called “home” for the last 3.75 years.
We then had to cope with the fact that our college career ended with a single, heartbreaking email. We didn’t get the chance to appreciate our last class, last walk on campus, last meal with our friends, last time attending our extracurricular activities, last anything. But we know that we will always have all of our amazing memories to guide us through.
Despite the stress and anxiety of this situation, the Hopkins community has come together in the most incredible ways. Our professors have sent us countless emails, letting us know they were thinking of us and they missed us. A few of our professors even provided us with their personal contact information and offered for us to contact them at any point should we need the additional support at this time. We’ve been able to stay in touch with our friends and mentors through text, FaceTime and Zoom so we could support each other as best we could, even from miles away. It is the way our community shows support for one another that makes us realize how truly lucky we are to be Blue Jays.
For us, Hopkins is more than a college. It’s the place where we made friendships that will last beyond graduation, where we found fields of study that we became truly passionate about, and developed meaningful relationships with mentors who celebrated our highs and offered support and advice, without hesitation, during our lows — special thanks to Dr. Papadakis, Dr. Howe and Dr. Roberson — we love you!
Of course we will miss going to class, doing research, attending club meetings and even studying in Brody. But what makes this so indescribably hard is the fact that we didn’t get to say our goodbyes to the people who have shaped who we are today and stood by our side through this crazy rollercoaster of college.
We were already in anticipation of having to say our farewells in May, but now we are facing these goodbyes prematurely and without a way to say them properly. Instead of one last trip to Hampden, or one last time sitting on the Beach or one last meet-up in Brody Cafe, we are forced to say goodbye through texts and calls. While it’s comforting to be able to stay connected through social media, it is not the same. We’ve lost the chance to gain necessary closure of this incredible chapter of our lives.
For those of you returning to Hopkins this fall, and for those of you coming to Hopkins for the very first time, please use this extremely difficult, unprecedented experience as a lesson. Enjoy every moment (even the difficult ones, because every moment is there to teach you something). Take advantage of every opportunity this incredible university has to offer us. Learn as much as you can from those around you. Enjoy every walk on campus (even on the freezing, gloomy days). Check in on your friends. And no matter what, be thankful for every day you have as a Hopkins student because you truly never know when it could be your last. We didn’t know it was ours.
To the Class of 2020, look how much we have accomplished! Nothing will ever take that away from us. Right now, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we aren’t quite sure when we will find our way out. But we will, because our time at Hopkins has formed us into individuals who are strong, adaptable, able to work through adversity, and most importantly, individuals who are compassionate and care deeply about one another and about our community.
Yes, we are heartbroken, sad, confused, devastated, but we have learned so much from our years at Hopkins. To find our way out of this tunnel, we’ll use the memories and lifelong lessons we gained at Hopkins to find meaning from this time and to make it through together. It may be hard to find a silver lining right now, but we know we will get there someday. For now, we will work together to get through this situation that is far less than ideal. We won’t stop now. We are doing our best. And we have our time at Hopkins to carry us through the rest of our lives.
Hopkins, thank you for everything you have given us: the friends, the professors, a rigorous and meaningful education, the mentors, the memories, the ups, the downs and all the in-betweens. We’ll see you soon.
Forever a Blue Jay,
Emily Franco and Polly Berman
Class of 2020