By: Logan D Clark

With Bellarmine’s announcement to move all classes online for the remainder of the semester, students from the class of 2020 are feeling the brunt of the change perhaps a little more than others.

On March 17, Bellarmine President Dr. Susan Donovan announced that courses would continue through online delivery for the rest of the spring semester. For seniors, March 11 was their last day in a Bellarmine classroom. 

In addition to the transition to online courses, all senior commencement activities and graduation have been postponed to later dates, with graduation occurring as late as December.

As a senior, this news is quite devastating. As a class, we have worked so hard the past four years, all to have our final months changed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a message to the senior class from Donovan, she expressed sympathy in knowing our time at Bellarmine was over sooner than expected. “Our work was not complete; our treasured time, your treasured time was cut too short and so abruptly,” Donovan said. 

While we are still Bellarmine students, I already miss being on campus. Seeing my friends in class and having personal connections with professors is rather difficult to duplicate in an online setting. 

Michael Wheatley, a senior sports administration major, expressed unease with the move to online learning. He said, “I feel like the education I am going to receive won’t be the same without being face to face with my professors and other students.”

Converting an in-class lecture to online isn’t easy. However, we know our professors are doing their best to make it an easy transition.

Senior accounting and finance major Michael Higgins said the best way he has found to adjust to the online learning is by “making a to-do list for class assignments and trying to find places that are still open with Wi-Fi to get me out of my apartment and do some work.”

Being a senior in college and making it to graduation is one of life’s greatest accomplishments. It is just as important as buying your first car or house or getting married. This is something we all look forward to as freshmen – walking across the stage at graduation four years later.

Shifting to online learning, though, isn’t the only thing having an impact on some seniors. For some, their final year of playing sports has come to an end. Jake Ryan, a double major of communications and sports administration, is losing his senior year of track, and he said that hit him the hardest.

Ryan said: “My main event is the 400 hurdles, and it is an outdoor-only event.  Thus, I will not be able to compete one final time for the event I came to Bellarmine for. 

“I will miss being around the team on a daily basis and going through hard practices trying to crack jokes afterwards to take the pain away.”

It’s personal at Bellarmine. Everyone made it to campus in their own way. Some chose Bellarmine with the help from an athletic scholarship, and for some, Bellarmine was their only choice. Having parents who both received degrees from Bellarmine, I knew that I was going to continue that legacy.

Being away from campus is harder than one could imagine. In the beginning, when it was just a few weeks of online learning, it didn’t seem to be as big of a deal. Now that the semester will finish this way, it has had a greater impact on seniors. 

Senior nursing major Kaelynn Goatley said, “I wish that I could have at least one more day on campus with all of my peers to truly embrace the friendships that I have created.”

Rachel Bell, another senior nursing major, said: “I feel like the word ‘friends’ does not adequately explain the relationships I’ve built over the past four years. My nursing classmates have become my second family.”

I feel as if this is the same response many of us have. We have spent many hours of our lives with classmates, all striving to make it to graduation.

Bell said: “Our time together at Bellarmine has created a bond for a lifetime. I already miss driving through the arch at the main entrance.”

Whether its athletically or academically, we are all affected by the closure of campus. Our “last” moments came sooner than expected. As Donovan said, we are a “great and resilient class. You persist and achieve, and that is your mark on Bellarmine.”

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