The #ImStillGraduating series shared on our Instagram account features graduating chapter members of Active Minds Western. The line art graphics were created by our VP Creative Anika In’t Hout. We wanted to provide our graduating members with the opportunity to share their thoughts on the current situation in a fresh and engaging way. Keep scrolling to meet our seniors and read their takes on virtual graduation.
“Since I was young, I felt like my life was culminating to graduating from university. Up until university, each step of your life is planned for you, but after that, nothing is. While having a pandemic impact your graduation is a *bit* more unplanned than anticipated, I’m trying to make the best out of this new normal. Some days are harder than others, but having so much free time has been an unanticipated opportunity to reconnect with so many people before we each go our separate ways. Despite its unceremonious end, I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve met during my undergrad experience. I can’t wait until all of this is over so we can properly celebrate together. Until then, hang in there everyone! And congrats to the graduating class of 2020!”
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“Graduation is something that many look forward to when they’re in university. Walking across a stage to pick up a degree in a fleeting moment of glory may not sound like much, but it is a celebration of countless hours of hard work, sleepless nights – and let’s be honest – some tears. It is a moment of recognition most grads await in their academic career, but one that unfortunately many of us lost to the pandemic. Above all, the unprecedented changes and pressures we faced in our last few weeks challenged our hopes of successfully finishing the year. It was hard and it continues to be hard, dealing with so much change and graduating into the unknown. But we are not alone, and we did it. I know that everyone has been touched by this pandemic in more ways than one, and I know that we will all make it through this. In a world of uncertainty, I am confident that the class of 2020 will come out of this stronger, brighter, and more resilient.”🎓 -Jasmine #ImStillGraduating
“My perception of Graduation has always been a little bit gloomy. I used to see it as one big sad goodbye, as opposed to the celebration of an achievement. Since the pandemic hit, I wanted to try and take advantage of the circumstances and change my perspective. Not only by taking the time to celebrate, but also by doing so on my own schedule, instead of during a designated time slot. And I encourage you to do the same. Take your time, find the silver-lining in all of this. Say goodbye when you’re ready, celebrate when it feels right, and close this chapter on your own terms.”
The idea for the campaign was developed by our President, Saba Siddiqui, having come across the Her Campus #ImStillGraduating virtual event that supported Active Minds. Once a strategy for the campaign was established, Saba and the VPs of each portfolio reached out to interested graduating members. As the graphics and blurbs were prepared for each graduate, our VP Communications Bahar Rafinejad shared them on the Active Minds Western Instagram throughout the duration of the campaign.
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“When the pandemic hit, it felt like so many things were suddenly taken away from me. I guess without thinking about it, I had put some hope in my “finals” at Western – my final classes, my final exams, a final good bye to all the people I’d met, grown with, and loved. Yet, I finished my degree in the basement of my home, by myself, feeling somewhat disillusioned – homesick for a place that had been my home. There are so many things I wish I had done, things I thought I still had time for, and suddenly all that time I thought I had was gone. It’s a hard thing to cope with – having all your plans derailed in what feels like the blink of an eye. It’s frustrating and scary and worrying, but the only thing left to do is to keep going. We always have the choice to keep going, to keep growing, even when our plans in life change. I, for one, am still incredibly grateful to be able to graduate, something that seemed like a far away dream, that has actually come true, no matter the circumstance it’s been in.”🎓 -Carole #ImStillGraduating
“To say the least, graduating feels weird this year. I finished my undergrad at the kitchen counter. For someone who’s always bouncing between meetings and classes, it’s been a massive change with social interaction levels (and motivation) going from 100 to 0, rushed goodbyes, and rebuilding new routines and sleep schedules to adapt. For many including myself, the next year or so of our lives have been turned upside down in every context. There are always a lot of mixed emotions with graduating regardless, but wrapping up the year in a pandemic leads us to find different ways of closure and staying in touch – and I’m beyond grateful that we have the technology to stay connected digitally! To those who have yet to graduate, soak up every moment, because even the longest semesters will fly by. Even though this isn’t how I expected to graduate, I’m still incredibly excited for what lies ahead, and to eventually see my friends in person!!”
“What’s next?” — “As a graduating student, we hear this from our friends, we hear this from our family, and most of all we hear this from ourselves. Although we may anticipate it years in advance, you may be like me and far from a definite answer. For now, I am trying to be okay with this, however, on some days more successfully than others. Graduating in a pandemic has brought on a new level of uncertainty no one could have predicted and yet provoked discussions around this question unlike I have ever experienced before. This period of instability, although difficult in numerous ways for many, has brought unanticipated comfort in uncertainty for me. I have been able to (re)connect with loved ones and gain a level of clarity around my priorities in isolation. While this ending has been unconventional, I have full faith in the resilience of the graduating class of 2020, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to grow alongside everyone.”
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“When news surfaced that classes had been cancelled for the year and students were encouraged to head back home, I was hit by a tremendous wave of dread. I had attended the last class of my undergrad without even realizing it. I think it hurt the most for those who might never be students again. I began to catastrophize a long list of regrets and what-if’s if this hadn’t happened, because suddenly the best four years of my life had been cut short. Life’s simple pleasures were replaced by social distancing and a post-apocalyptic world outside. In essence, graduating during a pandemic is a tough, confusing, and lonely time. I found peace in the notion that losing 4 extra weeks with my best friends could never take away from the unforgettable memories I had made here. It could never minimize or invalidate the lessons I had learned and the person I had grown up to be. Those regrets and what ifs could be framed in to new, spontaneous and ambitious plans for the future. I had forgotten how much of a life achievement completing your undergrad was because I submitted my last assignment home alone. I hope that everyone who was supposed to graduate this year can acknowledge deep down that they deserve all the happiness, love and congratulations for their accomplishment. Those sleepless nights, tears, and hours and hours of dedication should not go unnoticed. All good things come to an end, but this can also be applied to the bad ones, too. Eventually the world will open up and we can celebrate our achievements, hug our friends and family even tighter, but for now I’d like to wish everyone good luck in staying happy, healthy and hopeful during this uncertain time. It’s okay to have bad days but do your best to accomplish the small wins. My time at Western has been the best four years of my life, but I also know that there’s so much more beyond that to look forward to. Of course, leaving the nest is scary, but it’s also a transition into the next chapter of a life you can build for yourself, and I think that’s the best part of growing up.”🎓 -Yasmina #ImStillGraduating
It is incredibly important to share these #ImStillGraduating messages as the current dynamic situation has impacted the mental health of university students greatly. Through sharing these messages, a sense of community is established and allows other graduating students, who may be feeling a sense of loss, know that they are not alone. It provides us with the opportunity to empower graduating students and celebrate their accomplishments.