A Message to the Class of 2020

    Published on May 27th, 2020

    On May 17, I graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in Journalism. I spent five years working to achieve this goal and to get a degree in a field I was passionate about. All this time and effort I spent came to an anticlimactic end.

    There was no ceremony, no stage to walk across and no applause to hear. I couldn’t see my friends or hear any final goodbyes. While we made the effort to simulate a graduation ceremony at my home: walking down a set of stairs with music playing and my mom handing me a card that acted as a diploma, it still felt off.

    My college career, one of the culminating moments of my life suddenly ended. It was sad losing something that should have filled me with so much pride in something I had no control over.

    I began to think of the hundreds of thousands of other students who are experiencing the same thing. How so many people had to view this moment behind a screen or in front of a web camera.

    I thought of how this crisis has affected Peer Health Exchange’s health educators. How the co-coordinators I trained with had to end their hard work abruptly and leave their classrooms without a celebration or a goodbye. We were robbed of something we worked so hard for, and it feels like that work was for nothing. However, our efforts were not in vain we still achieved something outstanding.

    Even though I didn’t have the celebration I wanted I still received my degree. I still have everything I learned and everything I worked for. Every connection and every impact I made is still there. No crisis or quarantine can change that. This goes for all of us; especially the Class of 2020.

    It’s heartbreaking that we couldn’t celebrate our graduation in the way that we expected or anticipated we would, but don’t let that take away from everything you have done or have worked for. As a journalism major, I was able to hone my skills as a writer and a photographer. I gained a lot of experience by interviewing, editing, and going in the field to find stories. I have been able to fill my portfolio and heighten my skills in preparation for a career in journalism.

    As a health educator, I knew I was making a difference by providing health education to students in areas where that is not easily accessible. I and many other health educators played a key role in the lives of ninth graders by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to make healthy decisions.

    For me and many others, it feels as though our lives took a turn with little time or ability to reflect and celebrate our achievements. Right now, our future seems uncertain. Things are changing every day and there is no telling what will happen next. Times like this I like to think back to my graduating days of high school. Things seemed scary and I did do not know what my future would be back then. Now, here I am five years later with a degree and the experience needed to propel me into the professional world. We have all worked tremendously hard to get to where we are and while we may face things that we are unprepared for we will be able to push through it. Thank you to a class that has proven its resilience. To the health educators I’ve had the honor of working with and those who have supported the work of organizations like Peer Health Exchange.

    Congratulation on your graduation Class of 2020. If we can thrive in college, we can thrive anywhere.

    Geovanni Botticella is a Los Angeles based writer and photographer who recently graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in journalism. He enjoys anything geeky especially things involving Star Wars and Dungeon & Dragons. To visit his website please click here

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