A letter to the Class of 2020

  March 30, 2020

by Lorelei Ahlemeyer, Campus Advocate

Dear Graduating Class of 2020,

I feel you.  The world feels you.   Things can seem very uncertain right now, but I promise you it will return to some level of normalcy soon.  How do I know this? I can remember standing in my hospital room cradling my newborn son as I watched the planes fly into the World Trade Center.  Then my partner, who was a Marine at the time, called me to tell me he loved me and instructed me on what I needed to do if he didn’t return from the war. My world was turned upside down, as I was lost, heartbroken, angry, and confused as I didn’t quite understand what was happening to us at that very moment.  In those few moments everything changed, as I know things are changing for you too. 

The truth is most of you entered the world in the wake of a national crisis and most of you will graduate during a national crisis.  These historic events will likely shape you for the rest of your life. Everything that you have worked so very hard for and have looked forward to for all of these years:  gatherings, celebrations, volunteer activities, and job opportunities will likely have to be postponed for a time. However, this is not the last stop for you!  

Class of 2020, because of your experiences, you have so many gifts.  These gifts are not something that I have witnessed in the masses with other generations.  You are one of the most empathic groups of individuals I have ever met. I listen as you tell me how you want to develop new technologies to save the earth, invent new medicines to cure cancer, and find creative ways to reduce waste.  You are independent and hopeful, but also realistic. You can see the world for what it really is. You can multi-task unlike any generation before you and are wise beyond your years.

My advice to you in this very moment is to just breathe.  Deep breathing can help calm the nervous system and help you stay centered. Cherish having more time to spend with your family.  Organize your belongings and create works of art at home. Sing, laugh, go outside and spend some time in nature (of course, while you are still practicing social distancing).  Be sure to establish and maintain some sort of routine. Keeping a regular schedule can provide some sense of control, calmness, and promote well-being. Send out valuable messages on social media to the world.  Stay positive.

Because of 9/11 and this current pandemic, you have learned to overcome adversity, adapt to your environment, and grow as the world rapidly changes around you.  However, there is no need to worry, rest assured you will have a leg up in this world as you venture out on your own! Adversity provides a sense of wisdom and that in itself puts you ahead of the curve.  Whatever existing traumas that you may be battling or whatever hardship you may be feeling in this very moment, know that we are here for you. We are here to help and if we don’t have the right resources to help, we can connect you to someone who can.  Just like our traumas of the past, stay hopeful seniors, this too shall pass.


Lorelei Ahlemeyer