Former Extol photographer – and college student – Evan Rivard shares his thoughts on this
When I experienced my first Indiana University commencement ceremony, I was
searching for my sister in a sea of caps and gowns
throughout Memorial Stadium. Since my own time at Indiana University, I have envisioned myself in her shoes preparing to take steps toward a new beginning.The importance of this ceremony is recognized by many as it honors the efforts and achievements of college graduates and opens the door to their future lives. In the context of the current state of
the world, however, commencement seems to be the least of our concerns. As I write this, the
COVID-19 pandemic has affected many, both at home and across the globe.
More than 140,000+ Americans have died after contracting the virus, in addition to leaving tens of millions unemployed. Concurrently, our country is experiencing a call-to-action for racial justice. Protests have taken the forefront of our attention.
These current crises are difficult to process, as the combination of a global pandemic and nationwide protests are unprecedented in recent history. Remaining proactive in the midst of these current events has proven to be a challenge, as so many aspects of what we consider “normal” have been suspended indefinitely.
On the other hand, many have shown great resolve and adaptability in their efforts to maintain certain aspects of our lives.
Indiana University has done a great job in transitioning to online classes to accommodate students academically. This was implemented in the spring semester and extended into the summer term. After finishing my spring semester, I am in the process of completing my final two courses. One of these includes advanced career development, serving as a substitute for an internship due to limitations in work and interactions from potential COVID-19 exposure. In this course, I will obtain essential UITS certifications in web design, web creation, Access, and Excel through IU. Additionally, the class emphasizes preparation and acclimation for a novel time to enter the job market.
My other online class, employee recruitment and selection in the public sector, is a valuable course to be taking with regard to these current times. I have made the decision to use my free time to work as a Door Dash delivery driver. Not only am I able to meet the current demand for restaurant delivery due to social distancing, but it also gives me the ability to work and make money in a flexible way.
I believe that our country, in addition to the world, faces a critical moment that will be written into history books for many years to come. The response to these pertinent events, whether they are perceived as positive or negative, should be of importance to everyone. This extends to responsibilities like voting, activism, and action that reflect the significance of both the voice of an individual and combined effectiveness. What is today known as “The Greatest Generation” began with the Great Depression, then, followed by Roosevelt’s massive reforms in the New Deal, and World War II. Confronting and surpassing challenges is not something new for this country as it writes our history and establishes the resilience we see today. The struggles we are faced with today in 2020, especially as graduates, should not be understated. Generation Z is comprised of the children who experienced 9/11, witnessed endless wars, countless school shootings, police brutality, and are now entering the labor force during a global health crisis. I believe that this is a vital point in time as we, the leaders of tomorrow, show our strength and resilience in response to these challenging circumstances, ultimately shaping the future.
Photos and Text by Evan Rivard