/ Abigail Hora (Writer), Emily Baer (Illustrator)
Nonfiction — 2 min reading time
If a screen could be a stage, then there would not be a stage in the first place. No need for the acknowledgement of all our sacrifices and the sacrifices of those who have supported us in our journeys. No point in an opportunity to come together in a meaningful way with family and friends and peers.
If a screen is not a stage, then we are lost in anonymity, deprived of the respectable recognition for our hard work, sleepless nights, and contributions to a campus community. We sit in front of cold interfaces with bittersweet expressions. We are left wanting for our final moments on campus, especially the culmination of those moments.
I send these words into a digital landscape, hoping they offer some respite, some empathy, even when it seems like there is so little left around us.
Dearest Zoomers, this is not all we are or all we will ever be. Our student community. Our international diversity. Our first-generation courage. Our immigrant hearts. Histories and cultures and identities that bring value to our education and oncoming livelihoods. Let us be brave and strive to take the risks we had waited too long to take in these past four years. We are a class of students marked by our perseverance and strength and compassion in a time of international pandemic and social unrest.
We will know our accomplishments. We will acknowledge our diligence. We will remember our hardships. We will have our loved ones beside us.
The world will be before us, a haphazard canvas waiting for our stroke.
If a screen remains a boundary, then we must lean back to see a future beyond four corners and four sides. Mourn the memories withheld from us, but do not stop there. Pursue the passions and dreams that do not end even when this life chapter does. We hold the tools to shift the tides of injustice and suffering in the world in all our individual fields. Beyond a seminar. Beyond a lab. Beyond a set of numbers on a screen detailing our grades and consequent worth as students.
If a screen could be a stage, then we can be limitless in our performance. Whatever our studies have taught us and wherever they have brought us now, we are still connected and striving for ourselves, each other, and those who have had their breath stolen away. We have reached and will continue reaching into this new stage, embracing across national and international distances and boundaries. Let us persevere as we always have in the face of difficult circumstances.
Four years end, but we are just beginning.